The Internet Archive

by | Sep 2, 2020 | Outside the Box, Blog

We’re all nostalgic people. Looking at old photos and school yearbooks brings back fond memories of a different time. There are many ways to bathe in nostalgia: some people might listen to mixed cassettes from an old fling, others might enjoy watching re-runs of sitcoms or cartoons.

Millennials are one of the first of digital native generations and growing up with tech changed the way we see and interact with the world. Exploring via a web browser was almost as important for my development as digging for worms in the yard or getting lost in the woods. Because of my early exposure to the web world, I get that sweet, warm feeling of nostalgia when I come across something designed in that colorful, boxy 90s style. These websites may have seemed totally rad back in the 90s, but with time comes change.

Luckily for us, we have an easy way to revisit the past – a sort of website time machine, if you will. Allow me to introduce you to the Wayback Machine.

What is the Wayback Machine?

Did you know there is an internet archive? Started in 1996, the Wayback Machine – also commonly referred to as Archive.org – regularly logs the changes on 458 billion webpages, taking up more than 45 petabytes of data. The coolest part? The Internet Archive is a 501(c )(3), meaning that they’re in it for the data, not the money. Anyone can view or upload to the archive.

Why Do We Need the Wayback Machine?

Nostalgia isn’t the only purpose of Archive.org – there are plenty of practical reasons why someone might want to browse the digital stacks.

Think of Archive.org as an internet microfiche: a writer or investigative journalist may want to know something that was published on a certain site on a certain day. Blogging didn’t exist as it does today, and text content was often being overwritten. For those web pioneers, there just wasn’t an intuitive, organic way to save old content. That’s where Wayback comes in.

Another person who might use the Archive would be a web person such as myself. Roundpeg has gotten more than a couple projects where we have had to rebuild a completely crashed site. Our best point of reference? The Archive. Using a bit of web necromancy, we are also able to use Wayback to pull things like image assets and text content from a site that no longer exists.

More Importantly, Have Fun

There are just so many cool websites you can find using the Wayback Machine. Not only is it fun to look at older versions of Social Media platforms like Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter – there are some serious throwbacks to be found.

Another interesting discovery while perusing the Archive was just how little some websites have changed over the years. Some of my favorite examples include: Neopets and Netscape.

As an added bonus to this blog, here are some sites that are still live all these years later: CNN’s OJ Trail Synopsys, the 90’s classic Space Jam, 3D Graphic Software Adverts, and Bob Dole’s ’96 Campaign Site.

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the internet archive

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