back to article Yahoo! announces last hurrah of ancient AltaVista search

Fans of the venerable AltaVista search engine – whomever they might be – have just a little over a week to comb the web like it's 1996, because Yahoo! will soon shut down the service along with 11 other unloved offerings. Seemingly taking a page from rival Google, which regularly mothballs batches of its less successful …


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  1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Yahoo!'s St Anthony Temptation by Virtual Machine Means and Memes*

    ....... For a SWIFT RapidE Change in Fortunate Position?

    …. saying only that the company is paring down its offerings "so we can continue to focus on creating beautiful products that are essential to you every day." ®

    Are Yahoo! currently working with any such products? Creating them is the easy part, the Genuine Art in Hearts and Minds Conversions/Melds is Released in Program Application to Realisation …. which is with AI and Advanced IntelAIgents, Virtual Power Supply and Inexhaustible, for surely IT is a Cosmic Energy of IntelAIgent Property Supply limited only by one's lack of great imagination and imaginanation, future building skillets and a sublimely exotic psychotic passion that leads with true desires shared front and centre on every stage, and at every worthy stage of its ongoing development.

    * RSVP Mars Regular Register Post which be Provided like a Right Royal Treat to Savour and Favour and Devour for the Seeds and Feeds that Pleasure Readers and Writers.

  2. Don Jefe


    As 'Yahoo! executive VP of platforms' Jay Rossiter doesn't seem to be doing what I would call a bang up job at managing their portfolio. I honestly thought AltaVista had died a long time ago. I've never even heard of those other products. I wonder how many other turds are in the Yahoo! punch bowl?

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Performance

      Genuine question, what does Yahoo do these days? What products does it offer?

      1. User McUser

        Re: Performance

        Mainly? Publishing breathless, gossipy headlines (like "Dog finds Bizarre Object in Colon?" or "There's A Monster at the End of this Article!") designed to cajole/trick you into clicking on the article and drive ad revenues.

        Other than that, Email, Web search, postponing Google's anti-trust suit, and giving Bing users something to be smug about.

  3. Daniel B.


    So the last of Digital's legacy on the internet dies. Babelfish died a couple years ago, during another cull. Sad to see them go, though AltaVista has mostly been a reskinned Yahoo! for a couple of years anyway. And Yahoo! has sucked for searches anyway, especially now that it is itself a reskinned Bing.

    Slowly but surely, Yahoo! is dying.

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: AltaVista

      Babelfish gone? Then what's this?

      It ain't Yahoo!, and it may be in name only, but it's still kicking.

    2. Kevin 6

      Re: AltaVista

      To me it has been dead. It died soon after yahoo bought it as they did the equivalent of a full frontal lobotomy to it making all results worthless(just like them)

    3. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: AltaVista

      IIRC, the secret sauce behind Altavista and the reason Digital built it as a tech demonstrator, was that behind the scenes was a massive memory appliance. It held all it's indexed search data in RAM for speed and this made it fly in comparison to other search engines of the time.

      Then, one day, the internet got too big. There was no Plan B.......

      1. sisk

        Re: AltaVista

        AltaVista died the day the 'search within results' feature vanished in my opinion. On that day it became pointless to try to use it instead of Yahoo or Google (Yahoo hadn't yet faded to insignificance at the time).

  4. DJ 2

    Bablefish is still better than google for fr to en Translations.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You mean the French write something worth translating to English?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        re: You mean the French write something worth translating to English?


  5. Anonymous Dutch Coward



    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Whomever?

      If you're referring to "whomever they might be", then the nominative form is clearly in agreement, since the phrase is just an inversion of "they might be whomever"1, in which "whomever" is a predicate nominative of the copula "might be". Whether this is "correct" or only "preferred" or even just "how we snooty people prefer to say it, just to annoy you" is another question, of course, which involves the prescriptivism/descriptivism religious war and questions of the provenance of the nominative-case pronoun inflections.

      1Such an inversion is typically used in English to indicate a sort of quasi-subjunctive mood, since English lacks mood-inflective forms of (all or most2) verbs.

      2Last I checked, grammarians were still fiercely debating whether substituting forms of certain verbs counted as mood-inflection in English, as in "Were I to tell you I am using the subjunctive mood, you might well disagree".

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Missing!, presumed! lost¡...

    An overabundance of exclamation marks.

  7. Cliff

    Search engine history

    Mild irony that Yahoo (yet another hierarchically organised o...... - never quite sure of that backronym) started out as a genuine place you might find something and became a bizarre portal connection of services with no real compelling reason to use any of them. What's next? Buy and suffocate Lycos maybe?

    Yahoo, you could have been a contender, you could have been someone...

  8. Mage Silver badge

    Well. eventually Yahoo will close.

    What is their strategy and where is their vision?

    Why did they close Geocities?

    1. TheOtherHobbes

      Re: Well. eventually Yahoo will close.

      Yahoo will be bought by HP.

      HP will be bought by Amazon.

    2. Mike Flugennock

      Re: Well. eventually Yahoo will close.

      Why did they close Geocities?

      Seriously, man; they were friggin' hilarious.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Altavista was the Google Search of its heyday, but even astalavista trumped it at around year 2000...

  10. Justice


    I! Miss! The! Exclamation! Marks! On! Yahoo! Posts!

    1. FrankAlphaXII

      Re: !!!

      Seriously?! I! Always! Found! It! Very! Annoying!

      It! Was! An! El! Regism! That! I! Actually! Didn't! Like!

  11. Snar


    Am I the only one still using it? I've used it daily pretty much since it started up.

    RIP AV..

  12. MrT

    Comb the web like it's 1996?

    Switch to WebCrawler and metasearch like it's 1994... missing the old happy little surfing spider logo these days though - it's gone a bit minimal. Still, probably an age thing - after nearly 30 years in IT, combing isn't what it used to be...

  13. Dan 55 Silver badge


    I think Apple using that word is more than enough in relation to consumer products and web services, thank you very much. No need for Yahoo and Microsoft to mindlessly follow, especially now that we're at Peak Apple.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Beautiful"

      "No need for Yahoo and Microsoft to mindlessly follow, especially now that we're at Peak Apple."

      Well, at least Apple did enough to create the concept of Peak Apple. But Yahoo? Peak Yahoo would seem to be an oxymoron of epic proportions.

  14. jake Silver badge


    Does anyone with a brain use yahoo? Or google, for that matter ...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Whatever.

      Actually, Google originally made its name with a vastly improved search facility - it was *good*.

      Nowadays it's less because of all the marketing and paid-for links on top where searching for "goody two shoes" will give you an artificially created link to a shop that proclaims to have them (read: they have been fed your search string and have inserted that in their description), so the doors slowly start opening for a new contender.

      It's astonishing how much Google resembles an early Microsoft. Next will be the buying or starving of businesses because they may form a threat. Surely, "collaborations" a la Stac will be next..

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "goody two shoes"

        That's not a good example at all, the first few links are what I expected them to be.

  15. Nick Kew


    Altavista was the best in the pre-Google era. Head-and-shoulders above the rest.

    In fact when Google first appeared, I don't think it was a better search engine than altavista. Where google scored for me was in a simple, uncluttered presentation. Altavista was beautiful to look upon, but out on the information dirt-track that came with the cost of long load-times, often measured in minutes rather than seconds.

    1. izntmac

      Re: Nostalgia

      I agree. Altavista was the best search engine in the late 1990s. Digital Equipment was always ahead of its time and made great computers for businesses before Compaq bought it in 1998. Altavista was more of a minimalist search engine page like Google. In the late 1990s and early 2000 search engines switched to the portal phase when on their home page they were not just about search but had news, sports, and all other kinds of stuff on them. Google won the battle of the search engines because of he minimalist opening page, the funky Google name on different days, and mostly because of quick and accurate search results. Quick and accurate search results and not a lot of bunk. That is what many people wanted and liked.

  16. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Why even bother

    They, or the original AltaVista (and Yahoo), gave Google its big chance, because even for years before Google came along all they ever seemed to produce in searches were aggregating sites trying to sell you your search term, however abstract that might be.

    Put in "Life the Universe and Everything" and it wouldn't have offered "42", or even to sell you a copy of HhGG, instead you'd just get lots of links offering to sell you "Life the Universe etc etc"

    And even if you did want to buy something most of the sites it offered wouldn't actually sell it to you, they just wanted you to click through to another site that also didn't actually sell what you were searching for.

    Trying to search for information about, or a manual for, an actual product and you might as well not have bothered. Once the search engine grasped on to the product's name their was nothing you could actually find out about it, because all AltaVista or Yahoo would show was junk.

    It didn't matter what search terms you would use. It would still offer the same useless results.

    So when Google came along and you could actually find stuff ....

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why even bother

      Yeah, but that was phase 1.5. Phase 1 worked, but the index was sparse.

  17. Andy Fletcher

    I laughed

    When Yahoo! shut down their directory. Then someone clearly realised taking $300 from the gullible was actually a pretty good idea and re-opened it.

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: I laughed

      Wasn't that just a rebadged "open directory" thing?

  18. Michael Habel

    Well thank goodness for that then...

    On July 31, Yahoo! Downloads will cease to be a portal for all manner of open source, freeware, and shareware downloads, though the site will still exist as a source for Yahoo!'s own software products, such as the Yahoo! Toolbar or Yahoo! Messenger.

    Really who the Feck would willfully install a fecking Toolbar?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well thank goodness for that then...

      People who click on things.

      When I first used my girlfriend's computer, there were over a dozen toolbars....and the useful screen real estate was about the size of the message box that I'm typing in right now...

      1. Steven Roper


        Not so much people who just 'click on things', as 'people who install so-called free software that also asks to install half-a-dozen toolbars and spyware bundled with the installer.'

        Somebody wants to convert a video file to play on their phone, so they google 'convert xvid to mp4', download the first program that pops up, click Next Next Next, and hey presto, they've plastered the Ask Toolbar all over their system and their default browser is now Google Chrome. Cue phone call to ol' Steve to 'come and fix my computer because my internet is broken' yet again...

        That's where most of that toolbar shit comes from.

    2. beep54

      Re: Well thank goodness for that then...

      To answer you question, far too many people. You know, the ones who keep asking you questions like, "Where's the 'any' key? It says press the 'any' key!!??" They almost certainly have the Ask toolbar also.

  19. fishman

    Was it really still there?

    I went to the Altavista home page - at the bottom it said:

    "Powered by Bing"

    So is the current "altavista" just a different front end to Bing?

  20. Horridbloke

    Déjà vu

    That list of retired things reminded me of the scene in "Life's Too Short" where Keith Chegwin, Les Dennis and Barry from Eastenders are sitting around discussing the best way to commit suicide.

  21. RonWheeler

    Yahoo Auctions

    'Yahoo Auctions - why did they kill that?' Will be the final search I enter into Altavista in a week from now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yahoo Auctions

      Yahoo auctions was deemed a failure in Europe soon after launch, since it was sued in France for allowing listings of Nazi memorabilia and failed to take on eBay successfully. It was served out of the same Swedish based server farm as the rest of Europe, and the easiest option was to stop supporting it and concentrate on the Far East where the site had proved to be much more popular.

  22. Josh Dempsey

    I think Marissa joining Yahoo! is the best thing to happen to it in years.

    If they can monetize their still fairly large userbase without too many annoying ads then I could see them doing rather well. Especially with the new Flickr and weather app for iOS.

    Well done mrs. Mayer.

  23. cultavix

    those were the days...

    I remember this being my favourite search engine until one of my good friends at the time who had just bought his first computer, a Dell Optiplex if I remember correctly, started to mention "Google" as a search engine... and yea, once I used google it was clear to me that it was the future. Simple, fast and with great search results.

  24. Vince Lewis 1

    alta-vista for porn

    First day in a proper IT job. It was 1997 and been a few years since I had internet access.

    Need to look something up on the web.

    Alta vista's a good search engine... Whats the url again, oh yes I remember.

    I was wrong, very wrong. Porn pop-up flooding my screen and my boss walking in.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: alta-vista for porn

      This would be about the same timeframe that "" used to be a page with nothing but a picture of a cat sat on a sun drenched roof. I used to amuse myself by typing the URL on colleagues computers and hitting the return key as the computer's owner paniced. The joke was on me when the site eventually changed to a hardcore porn one.

    2. Richard Wharram

      Re: alta-vista for porn

      God, I remember that. got hijacked. My PC at work suddenly displayed a lady with half her arm up her dirtbox. Very embarassing.

      Had to use for a while. Fuckwits. No wonder people were looking for an alternative.

  25. h3

    Altavista was pretty good when I first started using the internet probably at least as useful to me as Google is now. All the junk was on stuff like Geocities what was left was pretty worthwhile content. Maybe it wasn't as good technically but in practical terms it was more useful because there was less completely pointless content. (Or copy pasted from another site).

  26. Fergus Gallagher

    Term Extraction

    I for one will deeply miss the Term Extraction API - I use it in my app...

    Any suggestions for an alternative?

  27. CCCP

    Yahoo's problem

    They've struggled since Google overtook them in search market share circa 2002. Search has always been, still is, their biggest revenue source. However, they're so desperate to be a "portal". What they fail to understand is that the whole internet is a portal. Skipping between a separate chat and email provider is a, oh, a click away. Also, Europeans would never trust all their stuff with one provider. Americans otoh, seem happy to do so, hence Yahoo has clung on to market share there.

    It's funny how Yahoo has been desperate to get away from Mail/Messenger, to be "more", a strategy which has led to their internet presence becoming decidedly less.

    Incidentally (I), Google was offered for sale late 1990s, which Yahoo turned down (doh). Not only that, Yahoo then built Google by showing "powered by Google" on every single search results page.

    Incidentally (II), it was Jeff Weiner, now with LinkedIn, who helped trash Yahoo Search when he was in charge.

  28. Mr Spock

    Altavista, in the UK in any case, ...

    ... has been dead since long, long before Yahoo bought it.

    Spool back to 2000. Altavista committed suicide when their UK MD announced they would be offering unmetered net access, back in the days when BT had the wholesale monopoly and nobody (except AOL) could afford to enter the market.

    About nine months after the announcement, and after about half the UK had registered its interest, the MD backtracked frantically, and then 'resigned' a couple of days later.

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