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Lycos: A brief history of the Lycos search engine

Lycos search engine

Lycos was one of the earliest search engines, first developed in 1994 by Dr. Michael L. Mauldin and a team of researchers at the Carnegie Mellon University Center for Machine Translation. Lycos' name comes from the Latin name for the wolf spider that is a hunter, actively stalking their prey.

When Lycos was first launched on July 20, 1994 it had a catalog of 54,000 documents but less than a month later its crawler had recorded more than 390,000 documents in its index. By the start of 1995, Lycos had indexed 1.5 million documents, then growing rapidly to over 60 million documents by the end of 1996, making it the largest search engine at the time.

Carnegie Mellon licensed the Lycos technology to a newly created company founded by Mauldin and jointly backed by Carnegie Mellon and CMGI in June 1995 and the company went public the following year. In 1998 the company acquired Wired Digital, the owner of the HotBot search engine.

In May 2000, right at the peak of the dotcom bubble, Terra Networks, S.A., a major provider of Internet access to the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking world agreed to purchase Lycos for $12.5 billion in stock. Dr. Mauldin left Lycos in 1998, when the company developed as a portal network with many regional sites, offering chat services, personal home pages, horoscopes and other non-core features.

As a result, Lycos' prominence as a search tool declined, but that changed again in December 1999, when Lycos reached an agreement to invest in FAST search technology. Soon FAST began powering Lycos advanced search results and by the autumn of 2001, Lycos abandoned its own crawler and began serving results exclusively from FAST. Today Lycos takes its search results from Yahoo!

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