Alan Emtage was born in Barbados, the son of Sir Stephen and Lady Emtage. He attended high school at Harrison College from 1975 to 1983 (and in 1981 became the owner of a Sinclair ZX81 with 1K of memory), where he graduated at the top of his class, winning the Barbados Scholarship.
In 1983 Emtage entered McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, studying for an honors Bachelor's degree in computer science which was followed by a Master's degree in 1987 from which he graduated in 1991. Emtage was part of the team that brought the first Internet link to eastern Canada (and only the second link in the country) in 1986. In 1989 while a student and working as a systems administrator for the School of Computer Science, Emtage conceived and implemented the original version of the Archie search engine, the world's first Internet search engine.
In 1992, Emtage along with Peter Deutsch, also a McGill graduate, formed Bunyip Information Systems in Montreal—the world's first company expressly founded for and dedicated to providing Internet information services with a licensed commercial version of the Archie search engine.
Emtage was a founding member of the Internet Society and went on to create and chair several working groups at the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the standard-setting body for the Internet. Working with other pioneers such as Tim Berners-Lee, Marc Andreessen, Mark McCahill (creator of Gopher) and Jon Postel, Emtage co-chaired the Uniform Resource Identifier working group which created the standard for Uniform Resource Locators (URLs).
- A. Emtage, P. Deutsch, archie - An Electronic Directory Service for the Internet Winter Usenix Conference Proceedings 1992. Pages 93–110.
- Michael F. Schwartz, Alan Emtage, Brewster Kahle, B. Clifford Neuman, A Comparison of Internet Resource Discovery Approaches, Computing Systems, Fall 1992, pp. 461–493, 5(4),
- P. Deutsch, A. Emtage, A. Marine, How to Use Anonymous FTP (RFC1635, May 1994)
- Alan Emtage, "Publishing in the Internet environment", Proceedings of the Sixth Joint European Networking Conference, 1995
- Alan Emtage, "Can You Imagine A World Without Search?", Medium, September 2015
- "Recognizing Internet visionaries, innovators, and leaders from around the world". www.internetsociety.org.
- "Internet Hall of Fame - Innovator Alan Emtage". www.internethalloffame.org.
- The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture John Battelle (Portfolio Hardcover, 2005) ISBN 1-59184-088-0
- How the Web was Born: The Story of the World Wide Web Robert Cailliau, James Gillies, R. Cailliau (Oxford University Press, 2000) ISBN 0-19-286207-3
- The Information Revolution: The Not-for-Dummies Guide to the History, Technology, And Use of the World Wide Web J. R. Okin (Ironbound Press, 2005) ISBN 0-9763857-3-2
- Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science Marcel Dekker (CRC Press, 2002) ISBN 0-8247-2072-5
- Encyclopedia of Microcomputers Allen Kent, James G Williams, Kent Kent (Marcel Dekke, 2002) ISBN 0-8247-2727-4
- Hobbes' Internet Timeline
- A Brief History of Search Engines
- PC Magazine, April 24, 2007
- Christopher Null (May 18, 2008). "Top 50 Tech Visionaries". PC World Magazine. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
- "Alan Emtage: The Man Who Invented The World's First Search Engine (But Didn't Patent It)". Huffington Post. April 16, 2013. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
- "The Codefather". Global Voices Online. October 27, 2013. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
- "An Interview with Alan Emtage". Digital Archeology. September 8, 2018. Retrieved November 5, 2018.