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The wayback machine

- October 28, 2009 - 5 Comments

One of the gems of the Internet is the “wayback machine” — the Internet Archive’s archive.org — which can show you a small snapshot of what your web site used to look like in days of yore. Those of us who work on web sites love the Wayback Machine because it shows us how far things have come and also reminds us all of a simpler time on the web.

 

The Internet Archive is a non-profit corporation that has created a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. There are snapshots from months and years ago of key pages of most  popular sites.

For instance, here are some snapshots of past home pages from Cisco.com:

From 1996:

 

From 2001:

From 2005:

Try archive.org on your own site to enjoy a blast from the past.

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5 Comments

  1. Sir,Very nice information. I could see some wayback machine long before when I was doing some some site query with alexa. But it was not working well then. I have a small doubt. Could you please tell the exact difference between a cached page ( which most of the search engines use) and that of a wayback machine?ThanksFlek.

  2. Nathan has a really interesting point about how the main structure of the site has stayed so stable for so long.I think both of the reasons he posits are correct. First, these really are good and timeliness categories, and many technology sites have the same kinds of sections. Most of the business technology sites in the 1990s started by asking their customers how they wanted to navigate, and patterned the categories off what the customers told them (and these categories map to that customer's view of organization at sites like IBM, HP, Sun, Cisco, and others.) HP has made the biggest change, with a more task-oriented navigation on the home page, but at the lower levels their site still harkens back to the traditional categories.The one exception to this customer-oriented rule is the Solutions"" sections of the sites. ""Solutions,"" as a label, tends to be championed more by the marketing departments than by customers... solutions areas certainly get a good share of traffic, but not nearly as much as products area. The paradox here is that many customers who go into the products area on a tech web site may actually need a system or solution... but customers think of assessing and buying products, not something called ""solutions.""Nathan's other point about there being an inertia that fights massive changes to navigation is also true, of course.Cutter Nick's question about the age of the wayback machine: The wayback machine is younger than the web, so it didn't capture the first pages of the pioneer sites such as Cisco.com."

  3. im sure its working but if using free domain like mine its not usefullbut its so good to get the last dataBest RegratsDarnals"

  4. Sure, it's very interesting to see how the visual design has updated through the years.However, to me, the most revealing aspect of these screenshots is the persistence of paths and primary navigation categories. It's downright AMAZING that the primary navigation categories in 1996 - 13 years ago - are EXACTLY the same as the global navigation options today. Did Cisco just get it back at the beginning? Perhaps, to a point. Or is there just so much inertia in those categories (and the consensus / agreement all teams have made to settle on those) that they've just not budged since?

  5. Hello... Really great to see how things have changed since that period, which could be compared to prehistory for the Internet, but yet is not that far, when we think of it :)I have a small question... Has the Cisco.com website been put online on December 20th, 1996 (as indicated on the WayBackMachine"" page), or is the year 1996 the maximum limit onto which Archive.org can go ?"