Lycos is one of the oldest search engines. It started in 1994 and was developed by Dr. Michael L. Mauldin and his team at the Center for Machine Translation at Carnegie Mellon University. Originally, Lycos was developed to calculate the size of the network using a "spider" robot program that went through the Internet via page links. Lycos started with 54,000 entries, two years later over 60 million documents had been indexed, more than any other web search engine at the time. Lycos was the first crawler-based search engine to offer not only links, but also short text descriptions, so-called "outlines". Furthermore, Lycos showed the hit rate of the results in percent. Comparable with the "relevance" often used today.

In 1999 Lycos invested in FAST search and transfer and in 2001 the company discontinued its own crawler and used the results of FAST search and transfer. In 2004, Lycos was acquired by the Korean Daum Communications Corporation, which resold Lycos to the Indian Ybrant Digital in 2010. In addition to search services, Lycos increasingly focused on other web services such as mail, weather and games. From 2005 the search results of Ask Jeeves were used and from 2006, later they changed to Yahoo and today [2019] Bing is used as it looks.

Language English

Launched July 1994
Closed No

Developer Mauldin, Dr. Michael L. and his team at Carnegie Mellon University Center for Machine Translation

Country of Origin US America

1994 - 2004 Lycos
2004 - 2010 Daum
2010 - [...] Ybrant Digital

Topic Universal

Region No Limitation

Technical functionalities
Crawler-based, algorithmic SeEn

Used SeEn Lycos

Robot: Lycos (Source)

Older Version Internet Archive / WebCite

»Lycos is one of the oldest search engines. Lycos was originally developed at Carnegie Mellon University to calculate the size of the web using a "spider" robot program that walked around the Internet from site to site through page links.« Source

»Lycos was developed by Dr. Michael L. Mauldin and his team at the Carnegie Mellon University Center for Machine Translation, beginning in May 1994. Lycos' name comes from Lycosidae, the Latin name for the wolf spider family. Unlike other spiders that sit passively in their web, wolf spiders are hunters, actively stalking their prey.

On July 20, 1994, Lycos quietly launched with a catalog of 54,000 documents. Less than a month later, when Dr. Mauldin announced the service to the comp.infosystems.announce Usenet Newsgroup, the crawler had amassed more than 390,000 documents in its index. While that number may seem small compared with today's 2+ billion web pages, at the time it was a notable achievement for a search engine.

By January 1995, the Lycos catalog had reached 1.5 million documents, and by November 1996, Lycos had indexed over 60 million documents -- more than any other Web search engine at the time.

Unlike other crawler-based search engines of the day, which mostly just provided links to web pages, Lycos went a step further, offering brief descriptions (called "outlines") of each document in search results.

Lycos also offered features rarely seen today, such as a match score (a percentage showing the confidence level that a document matched your query) and a keyword list detailing how often those words were found.

Carnegie Mellon licensed the Lycos technology to a newly created company founded by Mauldin and jointly backed by Carnegie Mellon and CMGI@Ventures in June 1995. The company had its initial public offering in April 1996.

Lycos nearly merged with USA Networks and Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch, Inc. in 1999, but that arrangement was terminated after a contentious spat over ownership terms, by mutual consent of the companies. In May 2000, right at the peak of the dotcom bubble, Terra Networks, S.A., a major provider of Internet access to the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking world agreed to purchase Lycos for $12.5 billion in stock.

Dr. Mauldin left Lycos in 1998, and the company caught a bad case of "portalitis," focusing on chat, personal home pages, horoscopes -- seemingly interested in just about everything other than providing quality search results. That changed in December 1999, when Lycos reached an agreement to invest in FAST search and transfer, and soon thereafter FAST began powering Lycos advanced search results. In the autumn of 2001, Lycos abandoned its own crawler and began serving results exclusively from FAST.« Source

Danny Sullivan (2004): Search Engine Timeline
»May 1994 - Lycos launches.«
»June 1995 - Lycos applies for patent on its spidering technology.«
»Feb. 1996 - Lycos launches A2Z guide.«
»3/12/97 - UPS adds button to home pages of Infoseek, Lycos and Yahoo to allow visitors to directly reach a package tracking form.«
»3/31/97 - Lycos unveils a new look, along with a new slogan, "Get Lycos or get lost," which is part of a rebranding campaign now underway. Content has been reorganized into subject areas, such as "news" and "sports."«
»6/16/97 - Lycos gives its Top 5% rating service a facelift and makes other changes.«
»6/23/97 - Lycos launches Lycos Pro, a substantial new upgrade to its spider and searching service.«
»7/16/97 - Excite, Infoseek, Lycos and Yahoo -- along with CNET, announced they are going to work together to promote self-regulation of the Internet.«
»8/20/97 - Lycos and bookseller Barnes & Noble announce three-year positioning deal.«
»8/26/97 - Lycos announced better than expected 4th quarter earnings, causing all search engine stocks to rise significantly.«
»9/9/97 - Lycos selected to product Microsoft's Active Channel Guide, an index of web sites delivering content via CDF.«
»9/16/97 - Lycos integrates Lycos Pro technology into main service.«
»9/18/97 - Lycos launches a Belgium-edition of its service. Lycos Belgium is available in French and Dutch.« »10/8/97 - Lycos adds chat and other new services.«
»Nov. 1997 - Lycos begins prelisting some of its own sites, though by December, it moves these suggestions out of the listings and into a more distinct area.«
»2/3/98 - Lycos purchases community site Tripod.«
»4/13/98 - Excite moves personalization to its home page, while Lycos launches revamped version of its personalized start page service.«
»4/26/98 - Lycos unveils new design for results page, featuring matching Community Guide categories listed before raw search results.«
»4/30/98 - Lycos announced that it acquired WiseWire for a $40 million stock swap. WiseWire uses agent technology to dynamically build web directories.«
»5/4/98 - AT&T announces a partnership with Lycos to launch branded Internet access service. Similar agreements are announced on May 6 with Excite and May 8 with Infoseek«
»6/9/98 - Lycos announced it has been awarded a patent for its spidering technology.«
»6/29/98 - Lycos announces SafetyNet filtering feature.«
»8/5/98 - Lycos announced that it has received a patent for its WiseWire technology that builds directory listings automatically.«
»8/11/98 - Lycos acquires WhoWhere, a free home page and email provider that also powers the free branded email service of Lycos-competitor Excite.«
»10/6/98 - Lycos announces that it is to acquire Wired Digital, owner of HotBot.«
»Feb. 1999 - It's announced that Lycos will be purchased by USA Network, owner of the Home Shopping Network and Ticketmaster-Citysearch.«
»Apr. 1999 - Lycos and HotBot both add editor-compiled results originating from the Open Directory. In particular, Lycos implements these in such a way that it essentially transforms the service from a search engine and into a Yahoo-like directory.«
»May 1999 - The Lycos-USA Networks deal falls through.«
»Jun. 1999 - Lycos launches an index of search databases to help users find information ordinarily invisible to normal search engines.«
»Jul. 1999 - Direct Hit announced to begin refining the Open Directory listings at Lycos and appears in a "Top 10" button model at MSN Search.« Source

Sullivan, Danny (Mar 3, 2003): »Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes: ... Lycos (1994; reborn 1999): Lycos operated one of the web's earliest crawler-based search engines. Lycos stopped depending on that spider in 1999 and instead now outsources for its search results from AllTheWeb.« Source

wiseGEEK: »A bit later that year [1994] Lycos was released, including many of the same features as WebCrawler, and building on them. Lycos ranked its results based on relevancy, and allowed the user to tweak a number of settings to get results that fit better. Lycos was also huge — within it year it had well over one million websites archived, and within two years it had reached 60 million.« Source


»The name Lycos comes from Lycosidae, the scientific name for the "wolf spider". Wolf spiders are excellent hunters that catch their prey by running after it instead of catching it in a web. They are named "wolf" spiders because people once mistakenly thought that they hunted in packs.« Source

Critical points

Features & Functionality

1997, or earlier: »Searches document text --- Ranked search results, with abstracts --- Based on robot generated database --- Very complete (2.69 million documents) --- Frequently updated --- Run by Carnegie Mellon University in the USA `it seems slow because you're sharing it with 174,999 other people'« Source


Example results page for "sand": Source

References & further Publications

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

Other Sources

Lycos. Online available at SEO Logic. URL:
Stewart, Bill (2011): Lycos Search Engine. In: Living Internet. Online publication. URL:
Sherman, Chris (2003): Happy Birthday, Lycos! Online available at Search Engine Watch. URL:
Dresel, R., et al.: Evaluation deutscher Web-Suchwerkzeuge: Ein vergleichender Retrievaltest. In: Information-Wissenschaft und Praxis, Volume 52, Issue 7, October 2001, Pages 381-392. URL:
Danny Sullivan (2004): Search Engine Timeline URL:
Sullivan, Danny (Mar 3, 2003): Where Are They Now? Search Engines We've Known & Loved URL:
Mauldin, Michael L. (1997): Lycos: Design choices in an Internet search service URL:
Kathy O'Reilly (2004): Korean Daum Acquires Lycos U.S. Two Internet Leaders Team to Propel Lycos Brand URL:
Business Wire (2010): Ybrant Digital Buys Lycos for $36 Million URL:
WAYNE E. HARDING (1997): How To Find It On The Net URL:
Metamend: Lycos Portal Search Engine Optimization URL:
Press 2004-2012 URL:

Created: 2013-01-16