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Alta Vista Search Engine

Alta Vista was originally one of the most feature rich, powerful search engines, however was gradually eclipsed by newer engines, and is now used much less than it used to be.

The Alta Vista search engine was developed by three people from the Digital Equipment Corporation -- Louis Monier, a researcher from Digital's Western Research Lab; Joella Paquette, a marketing specialist in Digital's Internet Business Group; and Paul Flaherty, a researcher from Digital's Network Systems Lab.

Alta Vista was developed as a research project at the Digital Palo Alto Lab in the summer of 1995, and was launched publicly on December 15. Within three weeks it was handling over 2 million searches a day, and quickly became one of the most popular search sites on the Internet. With the emergence of aggressive competitors and then the link-popularity method used by Google, Alta Vista fell behind and lost its leading image.

Key Alta Vista search features are listed below. Note that operators on Alta Vista need to be entered in all CAPS to be recognized and work.

Search Features

Function

Example

Results

Boolean

space AND mars

both "space" and "mars"

 

space OR mars

"space" or "mars"

 

space AND (mars OR venus)

"space" and either "mars" or "venus". Always put brackets around OR keywords connected to AND

 

space AND NOT mars

space, but no pages with "mars"

Wildcard

space AND music*

space and music, musical, musician, etc.

 

inter*net

any word with up to five letters between "inter" and "net", such as Internet, interfacenet, interopnet, etc.

Phrases

electric AND "fastest car"

includes phrase "fastest car"

Language

zéro

only French language word "zéro"

Letter Case

EFF

only capitalized "EFF"

 

eff

both "eff" and "EFF"

Fields

url:space

"space" in the URL

 

link:movie

"movie" in a link name

 

title:mars

"mars" in the page title

 

text:silver

"silver" in text of page

 

anchor:back

"back" in button or link

 

image:venus

"venus" in image description

 

url:(space and (venus or mars))

"space" and "venus" or "mars" in URL

Dates

1/jan/98 1/feb/98

Enter "1/Jan/98" in the "From" field, and "1/feb/98" in the "To" field to get documents posted during that period

History. Alta Vista and Excite used to be the only search engines that supported the powerful NEAR operator, but Alta Vista no longer distinguishes NEAR from AND.

Search Features

Function

Example

Results

Boolean

race NEAR car

"race" within ten words of "car"

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