AltaVista was created by three lab employees at Digital Equipment Corporation’s Research Lab based in Palo Alto, and was made available online in December 1995.
The three lab employees came up with the idea of using the just-launched Alpha 8400 (also known as the Turbolaser) to be the host to a full-text database of the web.
The idea for the name ‘AltaVista’ came about one by coincidence from a partially wiped out white board the laboratory. Someone came up with ‘AltoVista’, which was derived from the location of the laboratory, Palo Alto. This then evolved into AltaVista, which means ‘The view from above’.
This new Search Engine introduced many new important features, such as unlimited bandwidth, advanced searching techniques and the feature the search engine is most renowned for – the web’s first multi-lingual search capability via its translator Babel Fish.
In January 2003, the pay-per-click search engine Overture acquired AltaVista in a deal worth $140 Million. The acquisition meant that AltaVista would continue to show the paid results from Overture to users.