Farewell to Altavista: Yahoo kills old search engine as it looks to the future


SAN FRANCISCO - FILE: A pedestrian walks by a Yahoo billboard October 21, 2008 in San Francisco, California. (Justin Sullivan/GETTY IMAGES)

Yahoo officially shut down the search engine Altavista on Tuesday, 18 years after the service first went live.

The firm announced late last month that it would be closing Altavista, prompting a mix of reactions from consumers, many of whom didn’t even realize that the pre-Google search engine was even still around. Visitors trying to get to the Altavista page Tuesday were redirected to Yahoo Search, which is the company’s official recommendation for meeting any searching needs that users may have.

It’s a sad day for many Web users, particularly those who have already seen Yahoo drop Web relics of the 90s such as Geocities and Delicious, which at least found a new home and lease on life with YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen in 2011.

When Yahoo announced its plans to close Altavisa, Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan eulogized the “Amazing Altavista,” saying that the product was never nurtured in the way it needed to be and that it deserved a better sendoff than it got — as the eighth in a list of 12 services slated for the chopping block.

“You deserved from Yahoo, itself one of the old-time brands of the Web, to have more attention paid to your role,” Sullivan said.

The decision to close those dozen services by the end of September comes as part of an ongoing effort by Yahoo and its chief executive Marissa Mayer to pour its efforts into building new products rather than trying to fix older ones that aren’t delivering. Since Mayer took the helm nearly a year ago, the company has decided to put around two dozen services out to pasture, each time saying that it was looking to sharpen its focus on delivering new products.

Meanwhile, Mayer has been on a shopping spree, including snapping up Tumblr for $1.1 billion. Already this month, Yahoo has announced the acquisition of the e-mail and messaging firm Xobni, the video service Qwiki and the fantasy sports app Bignoggins.

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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