Launched December 1993
Closed 1994

Developer Fletcher, Jonathon

Country of Origin

1993 - 1994 Fletcher, Jonathon

Topic Universal


Technical functionalities

Used SeEn

Older Version Internet Archive / WebCite

»The JumpStation was an early service for searching the Web, but was not supported after the creator left the University. [...] The JumpStation was designed to search the Web by document title and header. JumpStation II was intended to supercede the original JumpStation, with forms support and additional search options, but was never completed. The server used an automated robot for it's data acquisition.« Source

»Documents were primarily gathered by a Web robot, but there was an indication that the administrator performed some indexing work also. Response times for reasonable searches averaged about 15-30 seconds. As stated above, this index was been unsupported for a long time, and has since been discontinued. The latest server statistics indicated that the database contained 275,000 entries spanning 1500 servers. Towards the end, however, many of these were dead or obsolete links.« Source

»You might think that the Americans led the way in determining how we search the web, but in fact the world's first search engine, in the sense we understand it today, was built right here in Stirling and launched in December 1993.

It was called JumpStation, and was created by Jonathon Fletcher, a brilliant young computing science graduate.

It ran (or 'wandered') for the first time on Sunday 12 December 1993, out of an HP9000 server in Room 3A91 in the Cottrell Building, at that time a university laboratory, now a Psychology Department office.

JumpStation used a web crawler to extract information from websites, saved this information in a database, and presented a search page on the web into which the user would type a key word - the same basic principle that Google uses today.

It was different from anything tried previously: noone had gathered the content and made it searchable by key words.

Jonathon Fletcher was a doctor's son from Yorkshire, who graduated from the University of Stirling with a first class honours degree in Computing Science in 1992. He had hoped to do a PhD at Glasgow but could not get the grant funding, so was taken onto the staff here as a systems administrator.

He explained: "My job was really to keep the labs going, help out students, and do admin type jobs. I had very little money, couldn't afford any rent, and when I wasn't sleeping on friends' floors, I slept in the labs. And when you are there all the time, next to a keyboard, it is very easy to try out your ideas.

"At the end of 1993, the only web browser was called Mosaic. To find out what was new on the web you had to visit their 'What's New' page. Being fed up with discovering the web by hand, I wrote something that would do it for me.

"JumpStation was well received when I posted it on the 'What's New' page and there were so many visitors that it overloaded the servers at the University!"

However, it was so new that its potential was not recognised or exploited, even though it was well used within the University itself. It ran for over a year, but could not keep up with the growth of the web and eventually ground to a halt.

By then, Jonathon had gone to seek his fortune in the Far East. He explained: "Without the money to travel, I had been unable to attend conferences, such as the First International World Wide Web Conference, in Geneva in 1994. I had to watch from afar as others presented papers and received publicity. It was very frustrating!"

Jonathon left Stirling in the autumn of 1994 for a job in Japan and is now in Hong Kong. His place in the history of the web has never been properly recognised until now.« Source

wiseGEEK: »A few other small projects grew up after the Wanderer, which began to approach the modern search engine. These included the World Wide Web Worm, the Repository-Based Software Engineering (RBSE) spider, and JumpStation. All of these three used data collected by web robots to return that information to users. Still, information was just returned unfiltered for the most part, although RBSE did attempt to rank the value of pages.« Source

»Search by title, header or subject
Based on robot generated database
Fairly small database« Source


Critical points

Features & Functionality

»The documentation for the JumpStation was never very usable beyond the front page, and the information for JumpStation II was only a little more organized but just as incomplete. The search pages supplied only a minimal explanation of the options or the nature of the search to perform. The information returned by a (verbose) search includes document title, timestamp, file size, and file type.« »Both services were solely searchable resources which scan internal databases built by a document gatherer. Uses could search for keywords in the document titles, headers, and/or subjects with the following limitations: Multiple Keywords were treated as if grouped by a Boolean Or in JumpStation, and by Boolean And in JumpStation II. The original JumpStation did not allow as much flexibility in combining keywords for searching, and didn't perform subject searching (where a "subject" is a word that occurs frequently within a file. There were no sophisticated search controls such as root and suffix management, real boolean searching, or match quality control. Both servers allowed forms-based access, but the older JumpStation was the only one to provide non-forms support. The content of this server had no particular focus or orientation.« Source


References & further Publications

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

Other Sources

Invented in Room 3A91: The world's first web search engine. Online available at University of Stirling via Internet Archive. URL:

Created: 2013-01-15