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What is the Wayback Machine?

The Wayback Machine, also known as the Internet Time Machine is a digital archive of the internet that was created by San Francisco based startup Internet Archive.

Whether you’re a web developer or a regular internet use the Wayback Machine is a fun way to check out what websites looked like in the past.

Lost a logo file, or did you get hacked and need to capture some content or an entire website?  Do not fear – the Wayback Machine can get that for you that.

Just for fun, let’s take a look at some of today’s and yesterday’s big brands and see how they evolved.

  1. Amazon.com Feb 2004AMAZON.COM ( FEB 2004 ) [ View on Archive.org ]
    Check out Amazon.com back in Feb of 2004. Back then, one of their featured products was the once popular first generation Apple 4 GB iPod Mini Silver M9160LL/A as well as the popular Kyocera Slider V5 cell phone where you could get a whopping $20 off! Back in 2004 Amazon.com even offered free shipping on all orders over $25.  Top sellers in the music category for Amazon at that time included ‘Fallen’ by Evanescence and ‘Come Away With Me’ by Norah Jones.
  2. Facebook.com ( OCT 2000 ) [ View on Archive.org ]
    Back in October of 2000, Facebook wasn’t even Facebook. At that time Facebook.com was Atlantic Media’s AboutFace.”Are your colleagues a blur to you?  Our aboutface® software is the easiest way to add an employee phone book, facebook, and skills directory to your intranet. Click the picture to try a demonstration, or read on.”It wasn’t until about 2006 until Facebook started to look like Facebook.
  3. Prodigy Internet ( APR 1997 ) [ View on Archive.org ]
    Back in the late 90’s, Prodigy Internet was just introducing the all-new web-based service Prodigy Internet. Their pitch at that time included creating your own webpage with links to your favorite websites, point-and-click access to chat, newsgroups, communities, email, search, content as well as affordable access. Rumors hit that Prodigy was reading members emails. Then a much bigger rumor hit that Prodigy was attacking users’ computers. Like AOL at the time, part of Prodigy’s content was temporarily stored on members’ computers.

The list goes on. Check out Lycos from 1999, eBay in 1999, Microsoft in 1996, or even Google Beta in 1999.

The bottom line is this – you can have a lot of fun, and spend many hours browsing the internet archives on the Wayback Machine. It’s a fun place to remember the past or a great tool to retrieve the information you thought was once gone.

What’s your favorite thing to use the Wayback Machine for? Post your thoughts in the comments below.

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