Origins of Google

Alan Emtage

Is it possible you didn’t hear or see the big news, or wasn’t tagged in the article by anyone on Facebook?

Could it be that perhaps you were too caught up in the hustle of a shortened work week, or maybe you were overwhelmed with joy because of Nexcyx’s big win of the Ryan Seacrest best Maroon Five Cover, so you missed it?

Whatever it was that stopped you from seeing the story about our very own Alan Emtage, and how he gave birth to a most commonly thing used in today’s world the search engine, here are a few details.

“I wrote a piece of code that gave birth to a multibillion-dollar industry,” Emtage told The Huffington Post in an exclusive interview. “I didn’t make any money off of it, but I wouldn’t change anything.”

Emtage majored in computer science at McGill University in Montreal, Canada and was working as a systems administrator at the school of Computer Science at the time.

Daily, Emtage was tasked with finding software, books and study information for students, and with no search procedures in place other than a manual look through the archives, this was an extremely tedious process that needed to be automated.

ARCHIE“We built this very simple programme that allowed people to do the search themselves,” and like all things it needed a name, so Emtage called it “Archie”, basically “Archive” without the V. Within months, half the Internet traffic to Canada was going to the innovator’s machine.

“At the time, nobody was making money off of the Internet, and we didn’t patent any of the original ideas behind Archie,” he explained. “So the patents would have been where I would have made the money.”

Archie used the same techniques that every current search engine uses, so, Emtage added: “In that way, Archie was the great, great grandfather of Google and all of those other search engines.”

The search industry today earns north of $780 billion annually, however because no patents were made by Emtage, he sees none of that money, but somehow is completely at ease with this, saying:

“I don’t feel like a father of anything. It’s not how I think of myself really … Every now and again, I interact with somebody who’s a real idiot, and I think to myself, ‘Yeah, but you know what? I invented the search engine’.”

I think that’s something for us here in Barbados to be very proud of, and keep in mind that we as a people are capable of very big things.

Who knows what’s next?

One Response to Origins of Google

  1. Tony Webster April 9, 2013 at 4:16 am

    This does not surprise me, having been fortunate to have met many outstanding, brilliant folks across the Caribbean, and recognising that we have world-class folks all around us. Including up the street from you and me. Pre-internet, out limitation has been the size of our “ponds”: our insular market realities -and the thinking that oft springs from these. Our pool of talent has spanned all fields of human eandeavour…like medicine, arts, sports, literature, The Law, medicine, humanities, sciences, and even ( I must needs concede) my favourite bete noir…politics. We have seen and have been blessed with huge human intelectual capital… but not always appreciated its global potential. The emergence and ubiquity of the web now releases us from our previous constraints…the world is now our oyster! Ironically, it’s also everyone’s oyster, so that our increased access to global success is matched by global competition to gain such prizes.

    We need to have our citizens appreciate this, from those formative early years whether in the home or at primary school, and right through every stage of their education, and their life. And to GO FOR IT! Yes, along with managing our economies and societies the “right” way, leveraging our Intelectual Property from here on… is critical. Tip my hat to you, Mr. Emtage!


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