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In the context of the Internet, a portal is refers to any commonly used website serving as an entry point to the Internet, usually with many links to a wide variety of information, data, resources and services.
During the dotcom boom the term portal was a buzzword popularized by a number of companies trying to define their Internet offerings. Wall Street liked the term and picked it up. At the time, it became fashionable to call your web offerings a portal, and many websites branded themselves as such. While some sites, like Yahoo, survived the bust, other portals such as Excite or Lycos did not fare well.
As compared to the late 90s, the term is much less relevant today. This is especially true with people accessing the Internet more via search, social networking, etc.