Yahoo Shuttering AltaVista Search Engine as Part of Winnowing Efforts

Launched in December 1995, the AltaVista search engine became hugely popular, but over time it lost out to Google and competitors.

The AltaVista Web search engine, which gained millions of users and great fanfare in the mid-1990s, is being shut down by Yahoo on July 8, as the company continues to pare down its non-core products and services under CEO Marissa Mayer.

The demise of AltaVista was announced by Jay Rossiter, Yahoo's executive vice president of platforms, in a June 28 post on the company's Tumblr page.

"Earlier this year, we announced an ongoing effort to sharpen our focus and deliver experiences that enhance your daily lives," wrote Rossiter. "As part of that, today we're shutting down a few products so we can continue to focus on creating beautiful products that are essential to you every day."

As part of the latest service cuts, AltaVista will be ended on July 8, to be replaced fully by the existing Yahoo Search service, he wrote.

Interestingly, this isn't the first time that Yahoo has planned to cut AltaVista, which it acquired in late 2003. Back in December 2010, Yahoo had proposed to shut AltaVista as part of an earlier product-winnowing effort, according to a 2010 story from The Wall Street Journal.

AltaVista was developed in 1995 by a group of scientists at Digital Equipment Corp.'s research labs and was opened to the public in December 1995, according to a history of the search engine from

"By the end of the first day, AltaVista had more than 30,000 searchers using the engine," the story reported. "Within one year of being open to the public AltaVista was dealing with 19 million requests per day."

In its heyday, AltaVista was one of the most popular Websites as a valued tool by millions of users. Eventually, though, competitors such as Google appeared with what turned out to be better revenue models, and AltaVista eventually was left on the roadside by users.

The other Yahoo services that are being axed in this wave of service cuts may not be as well-known as AltaVista. Three services, Yahoo Axis, Browser Plus and Citizen Sports, were already dropped as of June 28, while Yahoo WebPlayer was dropped on June 30, according to Rossiter's post.

The Yahoo FoxyTunes and RSS Alerts services are being dropped on July 1, while Yahoo Neighbors Beta is being terminated on July 8.

On July 25, Yahoo's Stars India service is being abandoned, while on July 31 the Yahoo Downloads Beta service will stop. On Sept. 28, Yahoo's Local API product and the Yahoo Term Extraction API will be closed.

The service cuts by Yahoo are not unexpected, since similar cuts have been a regular feature at the company since the arrival of Mayer in July 2012 when she was brought in as CEO and president to try to put Yahoo back on track as a leading, growing and stable Internet company.

Mayer came to Yahoo from Google, where such "spring cleaning" efforts have been a normal part of the company's operations. The latest Google service cuts include Reader, which is being ended on July 1 amid some backlash from users.

Perhaps Mayer is taking those spring cleaning ideas from her former employer as she works on making changes at Yahoo.