Language English

Launched 1990
Closed [...]

Developer Emtage, Alan and Bill Heelan and Peter Deutsch

Country of Origin US America


Topic Universal

Region No Limitation

Electronic Directory / Indexing Public FTP (file transfer protocol) Archives

Used SeEn Archie

Older Version Internet Archive / WebCite

Deutsch, Peter (1992):»The archie service is a collection of resource discovery tools that together provide an electronic directory service for locating information in an Internet environment. Originally created to track the contents of anonymous ftp archive sites, the archie service is now being expanded to include a variety of other on-line directories and resource listings.« Source
Wikipedia: »The archie service began as a project for students and volunteer staff at the McGill University School of Computer Science in 1987, when Deutsch, Emtage, and Heelan were asked to connect the School of Computer Science to the Internet. The earliest versions of archie, written by Alan Emtage, simply contacted a list of FTP archives on a regular basis (contacting each roughly once a month, so as not to waste too much resources of the remote servers) and requested a listing. These listings were stored in local files to be searched using the Unix grep command. Bill Heelan and Peter Deutsch wrote a script allowing people to login and search collected information using telnet protocol at the host "" []. Later, more efficient front- and back-ends were developed, and the system spread from a local tool, to a network-wide resource, and a popular service available from multiple sites around the Internet. The collected data would be exchanged between the neighbouring Archie servers. The servers could be accessed in multiple ways: using a local client (such as archie or xarchie); telneting to a server directly; sending queries by electronic mail; and later via a World Wide Web interface. In the zenith of its fame the Archie search engine accounted for 50% of the Montreal Internet traffic. In 1992, Emtage along with Peter Deutsch and some financial help of McGill University formed Bunyip Information Systems the world's first company expressly founded for and dedicated to providing Internet information services with a licensed commercial version of the Archie search engine used by millions of people worldwide. Bill Heelan followed them into Bunyip soon after, where he together with Bibi Ali and Sandro Mazzucato was a part of so-called Archie Group. The group significantly updated the archie database and indexed web-pages. Work on the search engine was ceased in the late 1990s.« Source
Salient Marketing »By 1992, Archie had catalogued over 200 public FTP sites. It is a figure that seems almost laughable by today’s standards, but a decade ago, was already beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. At its peak in 1995, 30 Archie engines crawled the Internet and had catalogued millions of pages.« Source
wiseGEEK: »Before the World Wide Web existed, but after the advent of the Internet and its ensuing popularity in the university circuit, the first search engine was created. At this point in history — in the late 1980s and early 1990s — one of the main protocols being used on the Internet was the file transfer protocol (FTP). FTP servers existed throughout the world, usually on university campuses, research facilities, or government agencies. Some students at McGill University in Montreal decided that a centralized database of files available on the various popular FTP servers would help save time and offer a great service to others. This was the origination of the Archie search engine. [...] Archie, which was short for archive, was a program that regularly logged in to FTP servers in its list, and made an index of what files were on the server. Because processor time and bandwidth was still a fairly valuable commodity, Archie only checked for updates every month or so. At first the index that Archie built was meant to be checked using the Unix command grep, but a better user-interface was soon developed to allow for easy searching of the index. Following Archie, a handful of search engines sprang up to search the similar Gopher protocol — two of the most famous being the Jughead and Veronica. Archie became relatively obsolete with the advent of the World Wide Web and subsequent search engines, but Archie servers do still exist.« Source
Sonnenreich, Wes (1997): »The very first tool used for searching on the Internet was called "Archie". (The name stands for "archives" without the "v", not the kid from the comics). It was created in 1990 by Alan Emtage, a student at McGill University in Montreal. The program downloaded the directory listings of all the files located on public anonymous FTP (File Transfer Protocol) sites, creating a searchable database of filenames.« Source


Wikipedia: »The name derives from the word "archive" without the v. Alan Emtage has said that contrary to popular belief, there was no association with the Archie Comics and that he despised them. Despite this, other early Internet search technologies such as Jughead and Veronica were named after characters from the comics, in imitation.« Source

Critical points

Features & Functionality

Deutsch, Peter (1992): »Users can access an archie server either through interactive sessions (provided they have a direct Internet connection) or through queries sent via electronic mail messages (provided they can at least gateway electronic mail messages onto the Internet). Interactive access to archie may be through a conventional telnet session to a machine running an archie server or through a program that has been integrated into a larger system, such as the Prospero network distributed file system. Additional stand-alone clients are now being tested and are available over the network. [...] The existence of the archie service allow those seeking information maintained by an archie server to limit their network search to a set of questions to a known server. The responses in turn offer pointers to specific Internet service providers. Once the existence and location of specific information or services has been determined using archie, traditional networking tools can be used for final access. Programs have already been created that integrate an archie client with the ftp file transfer program or into larger information access services. This allows a user to first locate and then access information from archie sites using a single program. [...] The archie server automatically updates the listing information from each site about once a month, ensuring users that the information they receive is reasonably timely, without imposing an undue load on the archive sites or network bandwidth. [...] In addition to offering access to anonymous ftp listings, archie also permits access to the "whatis" description database. This database is a collection of descriptions that includes the name and a brief synopsis for over 3,500 public domain software packages, datasets and informational documents located on the Internet. Additional "whatis" databases are scheduled to be added in the coming months. Planned offerings include listings for the names and locations of on-line library catalogue programs, the names of publicly accessible electronic mailing lists and compilations of Frequently Asked Questions lists and archive sites for the most popular Usenet "newsgroups" or bulletin boards. Suggestions for additional descriptions or locations databases are welcomed and should be sent to the archie developers at "".« Source


Wikipedia: »A legacy Archie server is still maintained active for historic purposes in Poland at University of Warsaw's Interdisciplinary Centre for Mathematical and Computational Modelling.« Source

References & further Publications

Wikipedia (EN):
Wikipedia (Others):

Other Sources

Bruce, Bertram C.: The First Search Engine, Archie URL:
A. Emtage, P. Deutsch. "archie - An Electronic Directory Service for the Internet", Winter Usenix Conference Proceedings 1992. Pages 93-110. Online available at: URL:
SalientMarketing. "Archie, the grandfather of all search engines - 1989" URL:
Savetz, Kevin: Life Before (And After) Archie URL:
Underwood, Lee (2004): A Brief History of Search Engines URL:
Sonnenreich, Wes (1997): A History of Search Engines URL:
Zakon, Robert Hobbes (1993-2016): Hobbes' Internet Timeline URL:

Created: 2015-10-16