Knowbot Information Service

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The Knowbot Information Service (KIS), also known as netaddress, is an Internet user search engine that debuted in December 1989. It provided a uniform user interface to a variety of remote directory services such as whois, finger, X.500, and MCI Mail. By submitting a single query to KIS, a user can search a set of remote white pages services and see the results of the search in a uniform format.

Although it searched users, not content, it could be argued to be the first search engine on the Internet as it queried more than a single network for information.

There are several interfaces to the KIS service including e-mail and telnet. Another KIS interface imitates the Berkeley whois command.

KIS consists of two distinct types of modules which interact with each other (typically across a network) to provide the service. One module is a user agent module that runs on the KIS mail host machine. The second module is a remote server module (possibly on a different machine) that interrogates various database services across the network and provides the results to the user agent module in a uniform fashion. Interactions between the two modules can be via messages between Knowbots or by actual movement of Knowbots.


This article is based on material taken from the Free On-line Dictionary of Computing prior to 1 November 2008 and incorporated under the "relicensing" terms of the GFDL, version 1.3 or later.

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