Search engines have come a long way since their early prototypes, as our Internet Search Engines History infographic illustrates.
From improvements in web crawlers and categorizing and indexing the web, to introducing new protocols such as robots.txt so that webmasters have control what web pages get crawled, to the introduction of voice search, the development of search engines has been the culmination of multiple search technologies that developed from different search engines.
Alta Vista was the first search engine to process natural language queries;
Lycos started strong with a system categorizing relevance signals, matching keywords with prefixes and word proximity; and
Ask Jeeves introduced the use of human editors to match actual user search queries.