Long time search engine and recently portal, Lycos is being passed along again to yet another owner, this time one based in India. It has been a long time since Lycos was really relevant, and I doubt that anyone under the age of 20 has a clue about it, unless they have known someone that has used it for mail or as a home page recently.

Bright Side of News has more of the story, and the overall history of the entity known as Lycos –

Like a hand-me-down shoe, Lycos, one of the great grandaddys of all search engines, has been handed off to yet another company. Over the years, the innovative web browser that existed before there even was a web has been adopted by several families. The latest is in India, Ybrant Digital. Before this, Lycos called South Korea its home under the wing of Daum Communications.

New owner of Lycos comes from a rising Asian tiger, India.
A sliding sale price indicates Lycos’ descent into the rag pile. Sold for more than $5.4 billion [with a B] nearly 10 years ago to Terra Networks of Telefónica, a large Spanish-Portuguese telecommunications company, it passed into the hands of Daum Communications of Seoul South Korea for $95.4 million [with an M]. This week, Lycos was acquired for $36 million, by the integrated digital marketing company, Ybrant Digital.
Ironically, Lycos Chief Strategy Officer Edward Noel told Market Watch that last year was the first time the company had been profitable. However, Wikipedia opines that in 1997, it became one of the first profitable Internet businesses in the world.
Lycos began life in 1994 and shortly thereafter went public on Nasdaq. It was developed at the Carnegie Mellon University Center for Machine Translation by a research team led by Dr. Michael L. Mauldin. It provided results ranked by relevance using an algorithm that considered prefix matching and word proximity. When founded, Lycos was unique in that it offered free, advertisement-supported Internet search and content, namely 54,000 documents, which increased quickly to more than 390,000 documents in its index, then 1.5 million, and again to more than 60 million documents. It lived up to its name, derived from the Latin lycosidea meaning wolf spider, a hunter that catches its prey by stalking and running after it instead of entrapping it in a web.
Archie Query - World's First Search EngineBefore Lycos and before the world wide web, there was Archie, the very first search engine. It was invented in 1990 by Alan Emtage a McGill University, Montreal student. It was a search engine for FTP sites, FTP [File Transfer Protocol] being the primary method of storing and retrieving files. Originally christened "Archives", the name was shortened to "Archie", the first to sound personable, followed many years later by another attempt to humanize search engine technology, Ask Jeeves. The History of Search Engines provides a concise overview of many others that have come and gone from the scene.
Mauldin, the creator of Lycos, describes its inception: "Work on the Lycos spider began in May 1994, using John Leavitt’s LongLegs program as a starting point. I added the Pursuit retrieval engine to allow user searching of the Lycos catalog." As 1996 ended, Lycos was the largest search engine.

I remember using Lycos frequently for certain types of searches, as Yahoo was not the greatest for everything, nor was AltaVista (another name from the distant past!). Google was the first search engine that was the best at everything; before that people like me used 4 or 5 search engines, or web crawlers, as they were sometimes known.

I still have a mailbox with Lycos, which I had forgotten about until reading the news above. Fortunately, it was not removed, because there are no more free accounts being given out at this time.

Will the new owners resume the free e-mail accounts? I hope so, because the number of free places that are not huge (and therefore prone to outages) are dwindling fast. Lycos was, during the time I was using it heavily, very good about being available. With luck it will still be that way when India takes over completely.



It is much easier to be critical than correct.

Benjamin Disraeli


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