Alan Emtage – the Bajan who invented the ftp search engine in 1989 while a post-grad student at McGill University

Bajan Alan Emtage in 1989, aged 25, invented the first internet (ftp) search engine – Archie (Archive without the v).  At the time he was a post graduate student at McGill University working as a volunteer systems administrator for the School of Computer Science where he conceived and implemented: Archie, a pre-web internet search engine for locating material in public FTP archives.

Archie is widely considered to be the world’s first Internet search engine.

Archie (Archive without a v) – Alan Emtage’s ftp search engine from 1989

Alan says: “I wrote a piece of code that gave birth to a multi-billion dollar industry”.  In recognition of this in 2017 Alan was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame.

Lets go back to 1989.  At that time, there was an internet, but not yet a way to search what was out there.  There was no Google!

Everything was done by using command line tools.  The ability to search this awesome new world of the internet became a game changer.

Archie was designed to provide an online index of public FTP (file transfer protocol) sites, the internet information repositories that existed before the web and home pages.

Before Archie, the only way people could find out the existence of an FTP server was by word-of-mouth or to be sent an e-mail telling where to find the information.

By 1992, Archie had catalogued over 200 public FTP sites. It is a figure that seems almost laughable by today’s standards, but back then was already beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. At its peak in 1995, 30 Archie engines crawled the Internet and had catalogued millions of pages.

While FTP continues to be a common way to share files over the Internet, Archie is no longer used.

Click on the link below so see Alan Emtage’s acceptance speech on being inducted into the the internet hall of fame in 2017:

Click here to listen to an audio interview between Tyler Reed of Vault Solution LLC and Alan Emtage.


For further background information on Alan Emtage and Archie see:

Alchetron –  Alan Emtage

Huff Post – Alan Emtage: The Man Who Invented The World’s First Search Engine (But Didn’t Patent It)

Caribbean Beat – Alan Emtage: The Codefather

Vault Solutions – An interview with the codefather, Alan Emtage

Open Transcripts – 2017 Internet Hall of Fame Inductee Interviews: Alan Emtage

Wikipedia – Alan Emtage

Internet Hall of Fame – Alan Emtage

Mashable – Archie, the very first search engine, was released 30 years ago today

1 thought on “Alan Emtage – the Bajan who invented the ftp search engine in 1989 while a post-grad student at McGill University”

  1. Awesome achievement! Congratulations, Alan Emtage.

    Years ago, there was a well known Peter Deutsch, who conducted a Youth Harmonie Orchestra in Denmark. Knowing it’s not the same Peter Deutsch, whom you mention in the interview. However, by coincidence they could be related, since the whole name is rather uncommon. I have a photo from Albert Hall in London, where both the orchestra with Peter Deutsch and the choir, in which I was a member and performed.

    Small World, now and then. If you had not turned out to being innovator this scale and created this fabulous ‘Archie’ system/platform and BajanThings wasn’t invented either – then not much ‘storytelling’ at all.

    Stay safe and best regards,

    LS

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