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Like many other aspects of the computer age, Yahoo! began as an idea, grew into a hobby and lately has turned into a full-time passion. The two developers of Yahoo!, David Filo and Jerry Yang, Ph.D. candidates in Electrical Engineering at Stanford University, started their guide in April 1994 as a way to keep track of their personal interests on the Internet. Before long they found that their home-brewed lists were becoming too long and unwieldy. Gradually they began to spend more and more time on Yahoo!.

During 1994 they converted Yahoo! into a customized database designed to serve the needs of the thousands of users that began to use the service through the closely bound Internet community. They developed customized software to help them efficiently locate, identify and edit material stored on the Internet. The name Yahoo! is supposed to stand for "Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle" but Filo and Yang insist they selected the name because they considered themselves yahoos. Yahoo! itself first resided on Yang's student workstation, "akebono" while the search engine was lodged on Filo's computer, "konishiki." (These machines were named after legendary Hawaiian sumo wrestlers.)

In early 1995 Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape Communications in Mountain View, Ca. (and the developer of the two most popular Web-browsers) invited Filo and Yang to move their files over to larger computers housed at Netscape. As a result Stanford's computer network returned to normal, and both parties benefited. Today, Yahoo! contains organized information on tens of thousands of computers linked to the Web. The San Jose Mercury news recently noted that "Yahoo is closest in spirit to the work of Linnaeus, the 18th century botanist whose classification system organized the natural world."