Language English, French, Spanish

Launched Summer 1996
Closed 1998


Country of Origin


Topic Image SeEn


Technical functionalities

Used SeEn

Older Version Internet Archive / WebCite

1999: »WebSeer was an image search engine for the World Wide Web developed at the University of Chicago. Using WebSeer, you could search for images using words describing the contents of the image and, optionally, by specifying characteristics of the image, such as whether or not it is a photograph, or how many faces it contains.« Source

Julia Angwin (December 17, 1996): »Although the Web is packed with images of every kind, most search engines, such as Yahoo and Excite, can only track down text, not images.

Now, a few sites are experimenting with a new way to search for images.

One is WebSeer -- web -- a Web navigator built by computer scientists at the University of Chicago.

WebSeer, which launched this summer, has cataloged about 1 million images of the nearly 30 million on the Web. It hopes to reach 5 million by the end of next month.

The search engine can recognize skin tones, number of faces and drawings. It also can tell if a photograph is black and white, color or a close-up.

It identifies the face by the accompanying text -- so a search for O.J. Simpson yields pictures of the football star, as well as his Bronco and the Goldman family among others.

``Like all search engines, we do our best, but we sometimes let stuff go through that might not be what you're looking for,'' said Michael Swain, an assistant computer science professor and director of the WebSeer project.

Swain, who works on WebSeer with two graduate students, eventually hopes to catalog all of the images on the Web. Right now, his team is adding about 100,000 images a day.

``It's just a question of money,'' Swain said. ``I'm quite confident we'll be able to do eight times as much as what we're doing now with more machines.''

The WebSeer project currently is funded primarily by the Office of Naval Research.« Source


Critical points

Features & Functionality


References & further Publications

Wikipedia (EN): n.a.
Wikipedia (Others): n.a.

Other Sources

Charles Frankel, Michael J Swain and Vassilis Athitsos (1996): WebSeer: An Image Search Engine for the World Wide Web URL:
WebSeer help URL:
University of Chicago PR (1996): "WebSeer" surfs the Web for pictures URL:
WebSeer Projectpage URL:
Julia Angwin (December 17, 1996): New Web Engine Has Photographic Memory WebSeer cataloging millions of images URL:

Created: 2019-11-21