In a way, that's appropriate. Google dominates search. By comScore's May 2013 search engine count, Google has 66.7-percent of the search market, followed by Bing at 17.4-percent and the perpetually declining Yahoo with 11.9-percent.
Alta Vista? It's accounted for a minute fraction of Yahoo's traffic. Many of you have never even heard of it.
It didn't used to be that way. Alta Vista was the top search engine in the mid to late 90s.
As someone who first started doing network searches before there was a Web -- with Internet programs such as archie and gopher and corporate database search tools such as Dialog and Recon -- I loved Alta Vista. It was head-and-shoulders better than the other search programs of its day.
With its simple search box interface, Alta Vista enabled you to find whatever you wanted on the Web without already having a good idea where it was or being a Boolean expressions master.
If that sounds like some other big search company, say Google, it should. Alta Vista was Google before there was Google.
What happened? Several things.
First, neither DEC, nor its series of subsequent owners, had the vision to see how Web search could be the heart of a business. From 1998 to 2003, Alta Vista went through no fewer than five owners. By the time Yahoo acquired it in 2003, the company was a shattered shell of its former self.
At the same time, all those management changes made it hard for Alta Vista's engineers to compete with a fast, up-and-coming search company named Google. Google, which had been founded in 1997, caught up with Alta Vista in market share in February 2001 and by March of the same year Google had left it behind for good.
Before early 2001, however, Alta Vista was the top dog. Had it had good corporate management we might be saying today that, "We Altaed someone," rather than, "We Googled someone." But it was not to be.
So it is that Alta Vista goes into the history books, while Google continues to dominate the Internet.
I'll miss you Alta Vista. In your day, you were great.