Remember FAST search engine? Maybe this will ring a bell:
FAST Search and Transfer isn't known for stealth technology, but it should be.
Its AllTheWeb.com search engine has snuck up on all of the major search engines
with new features, speed and customization capabilities, and is now a viable
challenger to pack-leader Google.
"There are four new technologies that will drive customers to the site," said
Bob Thomas, spokesperson for FAST. These include dynamic clustering of results,
real-time news search, a "pre-analysis" tool that helps refine search queries,
and enhanced user interface and customization options, according to Thomas.
– http://searchenginewatch.com/2158181, Nov 13, 2001
This was written almost 9 years ago, and the 2001 concept of "real time news" seems almost charming with the increase in blogging and creation of Facebook and Twitter since then, but kudos to FAST for innovating on something we all take for granted today.
Reports of FAST challenging Google were rather optimistic, and as we sit here in 2010 we can guess how that worked out for FAST. But what happened to them? Well, in 2008, Microsoft consumed FAST and rebranded it Enterprise Search (http://www.microsoft.com/enterprisesearch/en/us/fast-customer.aspx). Heard of it? Yeah, me neither. I'm not even sure I could find it in my MSDN DVDs going back to 2003.
Well, speaking of MSDN, when I logged in to grab Expression 4 (shiny new thing!!), something else was listed in the new downloads: FAST Search Server 2010 for SharePoint. Heard of it? Yeah, me neither. One thing hasn't changed in 9 years–the stealth aspects.
BTW–AllTheWeb.com still exists, it's a Yahoo! property now. And, I suspect, still challenging Google.