beanz Magazine

The Wayback Machine

Julie Geiger on Flickr

The Wayback Machine lets you travel back in time to see old websites. Plus the Internet Archive has thousands of vintage games, software, books, and more.

There is a place on the internet where you can travel back in time to see old websites. We might think of websites as eternal, always available and rarely changing. However, websites do evolve and they do disappear.

The Wayback Machine has captured and archived websites since the 1990s, as a way to preserve the history of the website part of the internet. You can find at least one version of almost all websites. And it’s fairly simple: visit and type in the URL of your favorite website.

Once you type a URL into The Wayback Machine, navigate past versions of a website with the timeline calendar at the top of the page. Click the timeline to visit past versions of a website.

The Wayback Machine is a non-profit digital archive of the World Wide Web and other internet content, for example, movies, audiobooks, TV news, children’s books, and software. It was launched in October 2001 in San Francisco by The Internet Archive, a non-profit group started by Brewster Kahle and Bruce Gilliat. Archiving websites started in 1996. The archive calls The Wayback Machine a 3-dimensional index of the web.

Sites are archived every few weeks or months. Their goal is to archive content that disappears when sites change or close down. As of today, 273 billion URLs have been archived.

The most interesting part of The Wayback Machine is their online collection of video games. They have 2300 MS-DOS games, for example, and 3000 games for a dozen different consoles, all playable in your web browser. You don’t need original hardware to play vintage games.

What did your favorite website look like in the past? Type or copy/paste the URL into the Wayback Machine and find out! Or play one of the thousands of vintage games in their Console Living Room or the MS-DOS Game Collection. Links are in the online version of this article.

Learn More

The Wayback Machine

The Internet Archive

The Console Living Room

MS-DOS Game Collection

Children’s Library

The Open Library

Open Educational Resources

Never Trust a Corporation to do a Library’s Job

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