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The WAIS System for Searching Text is Introduced (1991)


In 1991 American computer engineers Brewster Kahle and Harry Morris, both of Thinking Machines, Cambridge, Massachusetts, in collaboration with Apple Computer, Dow Jones, and KPMG Peat Marwick, developed the Wide Area Information Server or WAIS system. WAIS was a client-server text searching system that used the ANSI Standard Z39.50 Information Retrieval Service Definition and Protocol Specifications for Library Applications to search index databases on remote computers.

"Public WAIS was often used as a full text search engine for individual Internet Gopher servers, supplementing the popular Veronica system which only searched the menu titles of Gopher sites. WAIS and Gopher share the World Wide Web's client–server architecture and a certain amount of its functionality. The WAIS protocol is influenced largely by the z39.50 protocol designed for networking library catalogs. It allows a text-based search, and retrieval following a search. Gopher provides a free text search mechanism, but principally uses menus. A menu is a list of titles, from which the user may pick one. While gopher space is a web containing many loops, the menu system gives the user the impression of a tree.

"The W3 data model is similar to the gopher model, except that menus are generalized to hypertext documents. In both cases, simple file servers generate the menus or hypertext directly from the file structure of a server. The W3 hypertext model gives the program more power to communicate the options available to the reader, as it can include headings and various forms of list structure" (Wikipedia article on Wide Area Information Server, accessed 01-06-2012).