The internet does not forget. This well-known statement is only partly true. In fact, many websites disappear unnoticed. That’s why we present you with the Internet Archive, a special find. The Wayback Machine allows time travel through the Internet.
It is probably one of the ideas most often taken up in films, books and series: The dream of travelling backwards (and also forwards) through time. What did it look like in your own home town in the Middle Ages? Or: What will the world look like in 5,000 years?
What is possible in the science fiction universe is denied us in reality – at least to a certain extent. With the help of libraries, handwritten records and old documents, we can at least guess how our ancestors lived.
Internet Archive: A Memory of the Digital World
The problem is that although it is always said that the Internet does not forget, there is no documentation of what happens in the digital world. That’s why Brewster Kahle set about creating his first Internet archive back in 1996.
He collected screenshots from every conceivable site and saved them for posterity. Almost 27 years later, he is no longer alone. A large team of supporters, donors, volunteers and permanent staff help him fill his digital library.
Wayback Machine: 99 petabytes of screenshots, audio recordings and books
And this meticulous and valuable work is taking up more and more storage space. On its own website, for example, the Internet Archive claims that it already requires more than 99 petabytes of storage space.
To put this in perspective, a petabyte is 10^15 bytes. These are distributed as follows:
- 735 billion websites
- 41 million books and texts
- 14.7 million audio recordings including 240,000 live concerts
- 8.4 million videos
- 4.4 million images
- 890,000 software programmes
Kahle makes all this content available to people around the globe free of charge. His declared goal is to provide access to knowledge for all those people who have no access to libraries in the real world.
A time travel through the internet with the Wayback Machine
For all those interested in the Internet, however, the Internet Archive also has an amusing gimmick. With the so-called Wayback Machine you can travel back in time through the internet.
Specifically, you can see how over 200 million websites in more than 40 languages have changed over the decades. All you have to do is enter a URL in the search line.
Of course, this also works for BASIC thinking. The first screenshot deposited is from 12 March 2003 and looks like this. If you then click through the days, months and years, you will see how we have changed over time.
Wayback Machine: Expand the Internet Archive with your Knowledge
The more people save websites, the better our understanding of how the internet evolves. That’s why the Internet Archive also offers browser extensions.
On the one hand, they allow you to quickly and easily view the history of a website. On the other hand, you can take screenshots yourself and thus contribute to the expansion of the Internet Archive. What are you waiting for?