Infographic: The History of Search

"Information artist" Jess Bachman has done it again: he's designed a "History of Search" chart that shows how search became a $20 billion business over the past two decades. Above, a small snip. The chart is broken down more or less by company (the defunct and swallowed-up also-rans get a cluster all their own).

Coincidentally, another website published a "history of search" infographic today. I'm partial to Mr. Bachman's myself, but interesting that the two unrelated efforts went up in the same 24 hours.


  1. I recall in the late 90’s that there were a flurry of miscellaneous tech stories that In-Q-Tel (the public venture capital node of very many not-public nodes of the CIA) had invested heavily in just about every viable search engine available.

    I would think that would merit scrutiny, but I’m fairly certain that tidy, little tidbit has been ignored by every news outlet, major or minor, in our American republic.

    It’s cute how the Wikipedia page for In-Q-Tel suggests it is “not-for-profit.”

    Actually, I just did a brief search on Google (ha!) and found this very recent and germane reference to In-Q-Tel and Google on Wired.

  2. I’d love to see a trend chart for people who have been on the web for a while and the preferred search site that they used.

    For example, I went from Yahoo –> Lycos –> HotBot –> Google. I was a big fan of HotBot until a librarian showed me Google in 1999. And I really haven’t looked back. It seems so old-school now…

  3. Nitpick:

    It worries me when people use “who” instead of “that” or “which” for companies. For example: “…Overture, who (sic) was bought by Yahoo…”

    The idea that companies should be addressed as people is one seeded by corporate branding people. It is sick. Companies are not people. They are not your friend. They do not have feelings. Please do not let the branding take hold in your everyday writing or conversation; we get enough of that from the advertising.

    Thank you.

  4. “Time Berner’s Lee” (sic) – possibly the most important person in the history of the web, and they can’t spell his name correctly. I love these infographics, but the quality of the proofreading leaves a lot to be desired.

  5. It’s a shame that the authors have no sense of real internet history. I’m surprised by the lack of mention of WAIS (Wide Area Information Server), which was invented by Brewster Kahle (among others). Brewster is currently digital librarian and head visionary of the Internet Archive, home of the Way-Back Machine. (

    We’re talking the late 80’s here, not johnny-come-lately 1994! Do your homework Jess Bachman!

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