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Page history last edited by sian 15 years, 6 months ago







 Archie Search Engine 

Archie was the first search engine which was created in 1990 by Alan Emtage, Bill Heelan, and J. Peter Deutsch who were students attending McGill University in Montreal. Initially their idea for a name was 'archives' but they soon shortened it and is now known as Archie. Below is an example of what the Archie Query Form looked like:




In September 1990 Alan Emtage referred to Archie as "pretty brain-damaged" although later he showed more confidence in the abilities of Archie. When Archie was first created it downloaded the directory listings of all the files on public anonymous FTP (File Transfer Protocol) sites. FTP's allowed them to exchange and manipulate files from computer to computer through a network, e.g. the Internet as it is a network protocol. There are many FTP clients and server programs available for the different operating systems. FTP has been found very popular for exchanging independent files using the operating system that is involved. This was completed on a regular basis and therefore it did not waste too many resources. All of these listings were then stored in local files which could be searched using the Unix grep command. Grep (Global regular expression print) is a command line text search which was originally written for Unix. The grep command searches files or standard input, globally for lines matching the given expression given. These are then printed to the program's standard output, although the user must be careful as by default the grep command is case sensitive.It will only accept lower case e.g. archie not Archie.


After a while more efficient versions of Archie were developed, this meant improving the front and back end of the system. Once the developed system began working  the system then spread from a local tool, to a network wide resource and to a popular service available from sites around the Internet. The Archie servers could then be accessed in the following ways:


  1. Using a local client (Archie or xarchie)
  2. Telneting to a server directly
  3. Sending queried by electronic mail


Local client: xarchie


Xarchie is an X11 browser interface for the Archie Internet Archives database which uses the Prospero virtual file system protocol. The best known application of the Archie system is to maintain the Internet Archives database. This database is already available from a number of service providers throughout the Internet and currently contains the names of over 2,100,000 files at over 1000 anonymous FTP archive sites.


Xarchie displays the relevant information which is returned from Archie with a user friendly interface making it easier for the user to understand. This allowed many people to explore FTP sites by examining the directories which were returned as query matches and then it retrieves files which the user wanted. Xarchie was designed like most other X applications, which was to be highly costomisable. In Xarchie almost all details of the interface, display appearence and command interface, can be customised using X resources.


The pitucre below shows that in the left their directories which when clicked on are displayed on the right panel. The bottom panel of Xarchie shows a set of text items where you can select the appropiate one when nessesary. The following image shows the Xarchie Help Pannel:



an example of Xarchie Help panel


The next picture shows another Xarchie document. The contents of the image can all be found using the status bar at the top of the box. This provides information about the progress of a query. In the middle section it displays functions as a host location, i.e. file browser. The far right section then displays the directory which was being searched. The bottm pannel of Xarchie shows a set of text items were you can enter information which can then be browsed for. Once the return key is pressed it invokes an action, as a shortcut for selecting if from a menu.



an example of Xarchie in use



With the World Wide Web continually growing Archie has become less important as new ways are being introduced. This has happened as more efficient serach engines are now used and researchers try the web's main search engines first or a search engines which they already know has the topic of their search. These are likely to be found on FTP servers. Archie didn’t work as well as search engines do today although it allowed users to search the Internet for files they were looking for, carrying out the task it was designed to complete. Archie became like a database of web filenames which it used to match the users queries. Archie didn’t index the content of text files and therefore in 1991 Gopher developed another search enabling this. The following picture shows a simple search in Archie:



A few Statistics:


Archie servers processed approximately 50,000 queries per day which was generated by a few thousand users worldwide. Every two months of Internet growth required another replica of Archie. A dozen Archie services had to replicate continually developing the database of records. Information shows that Archie took longer to answer queries during the week compared to a Saturday night as traffic was less.


In 1992 Archie contained roughly 2.6 million files with 150 gigabytes of information according to www.seobythesea.com. Also in 1992, Archie had catalogued over 200 public FTP sites. Compared to figures now that seems laughable by today's standards but a decade ago, this was already beyond anyone's wildest dreams. Later in 1993 reports said that Archie was still active although they were seeing some signs of strain in handling searches. At it's peak in 1995, 30 Archie engines crawled the internet and had catalogued millions of pages. Currently there are very few Archie servers which are still in operation although one gateway can be found in Poland.


Archie’s Main developers and innovators – Disputes and disagreements:



The Archie search engine can only be described as the mother of invention and in the computer vernacular Archie’s life simply began as a hack from the group (Alan Emtage, Bill Heelan, and J. Peter Deutsch) who were looking for a quick fix and a dirty solution to a problem, without adding much design thought, prototyping or life cycling. It would have been impossible to determine how this little file directory receiver would, in 2 years the most widely used information system on the internet of that era.


Disputes and issues were raised in 2001 when Alta Vista CEO, David Wetherell stated that 38 patents that ‘AV’ owns and 30 additional that had been applied for belonged as Alta Vista’s property. He continued to state that "We believe that virtually everyone out there who indexes the web is in violation of at least several of AltaVista's key patents."

Archie’s creator deliberately raised many questions about the CEO’s statements regarding patents. Long before Alta Vista, there was Archie (1989) and the creator of Archie, Alan Emtage was right to review to the patents referred to. A shocked and saddened Emtage commented on the CEO’s concepts declaring "I'm amused, or more accurately, confused, by the idea that such basic concepts underlying Internet search engines could be patented by a latecomer like CMGI/AltaVista,”. 




Members of the Archie group are:



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