The Internet Wayback Machine
By James Grahame
The trouble with the Web is that it changes all the time. Just because you found a cool site yesterday doesn't mean it'll be around a year from now. The Internet Wayback Machine is an attempt to solve that problem. It's a front-end to a giant database filled with copies of Internet sites from years past (over 55 billion pages at last count).
I've tried it out on a couple of my old sites, and it works reasonably well. Not every page is cataloged and graphics are often missing, but the essence is there. You can have a lot of fun trawling big sites: Here's a peek at CNN on 9.11.2001, the Apple Computer site as it was on 10.26.1996, and a glimpse of a young Netscape on 20.10.1996; Navigator 3.0 has just been released!
The heart of the Wayback Machine is the giant Internet Archive, started by Brewster Kahle in 1996. It often takes up to a year for a newly crawled site to appear in the archive, partly because it's growing at the astounding rate of more than 25 Terabytes per month. In addition to the Wayback Machine, the archive includes video, audio, and scanned texts. Something tells me they're not using stacks of floppies!