WebCrawler, probably the most bought and sold search engine on the web – and one of the first, celebrates its 10th birthday today. WebCrawler was developed by Brian Pinkerton in his spare time while a student at the University of Washington. At birth, WebCrawler was a desktop application, not a Web search engine as it is today (or was 6 years ago).
Currently owned by InfoSpace, WebCrawler has been changed, hailed, submitted to, sold, and bought over the past ten years. Here is a highlight of WebCrawler moments of glory up to now (the full WebCrawler History):
April 20, 1994- WebCrawler goes live on the Web with a database containing pages from just over 4000 different Web sites.
WebCrawler’s birth announcement:
From email@example.com Wed Apr 20 23:11:17 1994
Date: Wed, 20 Apr 1994 23:10:35 -0700
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Brian Pinkerton)
Subject: WebCrawler server up
I finally got a forms query interface hacked together
for the WebCrawler index. Give it a try, at
This index was assembled in slightly less than 24hrs
of WebCrawling, so it’s not particular deep. On the
other hand, it seems to have reasonable breadth, so
general search terms should work well. It’s not fast
yet, either. MMOC (mere matter of code).
June 1st, 1995 – June 1, 1995 America Online acquires WebCrawler. At the time of the acquisition, AOL had fewer than 1 million users, and no capability to access the Web.
April 1, 1997 – Excite acquires WebCrawler. AOL sold WebCrawler to the Mountain View, CA company Excite.
2001 – InfoSpace acquires WebCrawler when Excite filed for bankruptcy. Today Infospace runs WebCrawler as an advertising stuffed meta-search engine.
Special thanks to SlashDot and Brian Pinkerton, and happy birthday to Spidey and WebCrawler!