Sunday, January 5, 2003

A Practical Time Machine

In the history of civilization, importance has always been laid on the acquisition and retention of information. From the Great Alexandrian Library to the Library of Congress, we have, as a race, always had a propensity for keeping records. Until 1996, however, this was not true of the Internet.

Starting in 1996, the Internet Archive, working with Alexa Internet, has been keeping records of the Internet. In 2001, they created the Wayback Machine, a means by which the public can surf more than 10 billion pages stored in the Internet Archive's web archive.

The archive, consisting of 100 terabytes of data and growing at a rate of 12 terabytes per month, has 12 complete records of the Internet. The volume of data available for public viewing eclipses the amount of text contained in the Library of Congress – if you transfered the archive to floppy disk and lay the disks end to end, westward from New York, they would reach halfway across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii.

So, needless to say, we think the Wayback Machine is very cool.

Go check out the earliest incarnations of (and amaze at their first terrible logo and homepage). Check out's 9/11 breaking news page (which very few of us got to see on 9/11). Check out Enron or Authur Anderson's web pages (or even's progenitor, the Anderson Consulting site). There is no end to the historically fascinating pages available for view.

The Wayback machine's only downside: a tremendous number of pages available but lacking their linked images, which makes viewing or navigating these pages near impossible – though this inequity is no fault of the internet Archive.

So pick your favorite current of past URL and jump in. We guarantee you'll get addicted to the Internet all over again.

Let us know what you find. fb

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