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Yahoo kills off vintage, pioneering, former Google rival AltaVista

If you were on the Internet in the late 1990s and wanted to search for something, there's a good chance you'd head over to AltaVista.

The name alone might have you reminiscing about the early days of the World Wide Web. But now after 18 years, the pioneering search engine is just a memory. Owner Yahoo has officially killed off AltaVista, which was once one of the web's most popular search engines. If you visit the site now, it will redirect you to Yahoo's own search page.

Palo Alto-based AltaVista made its debut back in December 1995. For those keeping track, that's three years before Google was founded.

Created by researchers at Digital Equipment Corporation, a computer vendor that was later acquired by Compaq, AltaVista was actually quite revolutionary when it launched. It was speedier than competitors at the time, covered more of the web, had an advanced back-end system, and a minimalistic user interface that brings to mind the biggest search engine of today.

In its heyday back in 1997, AltaVista received more than 80 million hits per day. That was, of course, before Google came along and stole the spotlight in the early 2000s.

Throughout its existence, AltaVista changed hands several times, and was eventually sold in 2003 to search marketing firm Overture Services. That same year, Yahoo swooped in and purchased Overture for $1.7 billion (£1.1 billion), effectively nabbing AltaVista as well.

Rumours about the shutdown date back to 2010, but Yahoo decided to keep the site alive for a few more years. The web giant in June finally announced it would say goodbye to AltaVista this summer, along with a number of other unused services as part of the company's ongoing efforts under CEO Marissa Mayer to trim the fat.