Are you interested in what your favorite website looked like in its infancy? If yes, then the Wayback Machine is just for you!
The Wayback Machine is a useful web application that archives the internet. More specifically, this web service takes and stores a screenshot of popular websites over time. The users are able to search for these screenshots and then view them by first browsing according to time. In addition to being a fun little tool that shows you a site’s evolution, this website can also be used as an important referencing source for projects you are doing i.e. instead of referencing the original website’s URL in your projects for information, you could reference the site’s Wayback Machine screenshot for it. Why? Because the actual site content may change over time however, the screenshot would remain the same.
To begin starting using this web application, you should visit its homepage. You can type in the URL of a popular website right away to view its available screenshots. On the homepage you will also find a slider of thumbnail screenshot images of sites the web app archives. Apart from typing the site URL, you can view a site’s screenshots by clicking on its screenshot in this image slider (see image above).
When the site’s page is opened, a bar graph of the number of its screenshots against the year they were taken in is displayed on the top of the page. By default, the latest year is selected; you can change the year easily though by clicking on one in this bar graph.
The center pane of this page will display a calendar. The calendar will have plain dates as well as dates highlighted as blue. The blue-highlighted dates are ones that have the site’s screenshots. Clicking on a date will reveal all the times a screenshot was taken on during that day.
Clicking on the date and then selecting a subsequent will open up the screenshot for you to view. Here is a look at the homepage of Google from long ago:
If your website allows crawlers, you can use the Wayback Machine as a form of website ‘versioner’ i.e. you could store screenshots of your website over time and then use them to track your site’s evolution.
In conclusion, the Wayback Machine is a lot more than a simple site-screenshot taking tool. It is a reliable and large internet library that, in addition to helping us view a site’s evolution, can also serve as proof for particular content being available on a particular site in the past.
You can visit the Wayback Machine by clicking over here.