In the late 1980s, during the birth and early development of what would later be called the World Wide Web, the servers at CERN were indexed and searched with programs called Archie, Veronica, Jughead and Gopher. Because there were so few files and servers, searches were quick.
In 1993, the first primitive search engine, W3Catalog, was released, though it didn't search the Web. Specialized catalogs of websites were maintained by hand, and W3Catalog copied those lists into a standard format. It wasn't until Webcrawler was released in 1994 that an engine "crawled" the Internet, making searches possible. Google perfected Web searches in 1998 with a combination of crawling and PageRank.