The Wayback Machine – Browse The Internet Of Yester-Yore

Karl L. Gechlik 14-05-2008

No I am not talking about the Wayback machine used in Rocky and Bullwinkle from what seems like a lifetime ago. I am talking about the Internet initiative to index and store websites as they were in the past. To some this may seem trivial or pointless, but to me this is awesome!


I knew about it for some time as I always saw links to it on the Alexa website. But I never really gave it a shot. Once I tried it to bring up some early images of my AskTheAdmin and I was hooked. I quickly tried some sites I put up in early 2001 and then 2002, 2003 and before I knew it – it was time for lunch!

So don’t say Make Use Of doesn’t contribute to your delinquency! But remember if anyone asks, let’s just call it market research!

The Wayback Machine - Browse The Internet Of Yester-Yore img 3289

Alrighty then enough of the introduction lets take you back… WAY BACK!

Put down your porn work and point your Time Machine browser to and you will be greeted with a page with a search box that looks like this:


Enter your destination, crank up that flux capacitor, and click the “Take me back!” button.

The Wayback Machine - Browse The Internet Of Yester-Yore wayback1

You will then see a grid with what date data is available for the site you entered.

If you click on one of them you will see the site – now this is not just a pretty picture – it is a FULLY FUNCTIONAL site. A lot of the external references have been maintained as well. The end result is like walking around a ghost town or peeking back into the past. Be forewarned it is addictive.


What could be addictive about an archive of websites?

I guess to the average person nothing but, to an uber geek like myself, it is dangerous. You can follow the history of the interwebs. Follow the progress of websites throughout their early stages and even through closed betas and sites that are no longer online. Ever wanted to see what your favorite sites looked like before they look like they do today?

Lets take a look at an early glimpse of what Google looked like back in the day (circa 1998)

How Google looked in 1998


How about a month before that?

Google at the very beginning

Pretty cool huh? Here is a quick shot of AskTheAdmin and MakeUseOf (respectively) from it’s early days:

Ask The Admin



Remember the first domain you bought that you over did with flash and java scripts? It went off-line because you couldn’t pay the bills? Now you can see it again!

You can go check out how your favorite sites developed and continue to develop. That has to be the justification for me just wasting 3 hours of my day. Hold on that’s the support line ringing…

Yeah let them wait!

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  1. Markus Laumann
    May 15, 2008 at 11:45 am

    "It is becoming unprecedentedly difficult for anyone, anyone at all, to keep a secret. In the age of the leak and the blog, of evidence extraction and link discovery, truths will either out or be outed, later if not sooner. This is something I would bring to the attention of every diplomat, politician and corporate leader: the future, eventually, will find you out. The future, wielding unimaginable tools of transparency, will have its way with you. In the end, you will be seen to have done that which you did."
    - William Gibson

  2. Dave
    May 15, 2008 at 5:37 am

    I have a love/hate relationship with Wayback machine! It's so neat to go back and look at websites in their prior versions. Yahoo, Netscape, Microsoft, etc. However, it's a bit scary that just about anything you put up online is archived forever!

    • AskTheAdmin | Karl Gechlik
      May 15, 2008 at 7:15 am

      @Dave It just goes to show you this generation will be very sorry for all the bong hit videos they uploaded to mySpace when they realize people will Google you before your interview!