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The History of Search Engines - Prologue

Updated: Jul 28

If I’m being completely transparent, I’m not great at generating content. It’s an awkward process for me. Every time I create a piece, irrespective of the medium, the same feelings of insecurity appear – is this piece going to impact people? To what sort of person would this piece be relevant? Who even gives a damn about what I have to say? It’s a constant cycle, but as I’m now a part of the internet-based business community, I feel an obligation to contribute to this wonderful, mysterious, digital vehicle humans have created…

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been a hoarder of knowledge. Some of it’s useless, some of it's quite useful, but most of it falls in the category of “this will eventually come in handy.” Did I know this was going to be my chosen path when I was watching Animal Planet, dinosaur shows, and Power Rangers as a toddler? No. Did I think about it when scanning my textbook in the back of 7th grade geography for no reason other than to look engaged in Mrs. Erby’s class? No. Did I think about it when I was the debatable MVP of several trivia nights at the University of Wisconsin? Definitely no.

It took a career in commercial construction, a global pandemic, and living in three of the most different states in the US – California, Utah, and now Georgia – to finally take this leap and begin leveraging my thirst for knowledge into a successful career, or what I hope will be one. I’ve been told many times I give off the vibe of a professor. It’s hard to argue with this impression, and even when I do there’s always a mirror close by to remind me of this reality. Being a professor does not pay well, though. Being an expert in search engines does.

Before I continue, I want to step back for a quick story. It was on the second floor of Harvest Elementary School in 2003. We were in library class – yes Gen-Z, that was a thing not too long ago – and learning how to use the internet. My friend David asked me if I heard of Google. I thought he misspoke or was kidding around, until he typed it into AOL – also a thing, Gen-Zers. It took us to a slightly different version of the Google homepage we know today. The font was not modern, and the search results page screamed dotcom bubble 2001. It wasn’t pretty, but that experience has stuck with me to this very day.

I don’t feel it necessary at this time to begin summarizing the history of search engines, that’s the purpose of this blog series. I also will not begin to patronize any reader, for I believe at a conscious or subconscious level we all know how prevalent search engines are in everyday life. Furthermore, I also believe we know how powerful they are becoming in this age of AI and big data. Perhaps they are even becoming a manifestation of Laplace’s Demon – “An intellect which at any given moment knew all of the forces that animate nature and the mutual positions of the beings that compose it…for such an intellect nothing could be uncertain and the future just like the past would be present before its eyes.”

I hope you find this series of blogs entertaining at a minimum. I am definitely not the first person to catalog the complete history of search engines, and I will be giving credit to those who already have throughout in the form of references and links to their respective websites. I strongly encourage you to supplement my blog series with their content for if it wasn’t for them, this series would not have been remotely possible. If any of those people are reading this blog post, thank you in advance for your diligence and hard work.

A final housekeeping item – these blogs will be posted weekly on Tuesdays and will be accessible by LinkedIn and The Lionstone Agency website.

Now, let’s have some fun…

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