Cool Tools: Wayback Machine

May 5, 2014


Wayback Machine

What It Does

Have you ever wondered what a web page looked like way back in the old days? Has an important page gone missing from your favorite website? Is that research data you once found on the web now gone? The Wayback Machine allows you to see what a web page looked like on a particular date in the past.

How It Works

The Wayback Machine periodically scans millions of web pages and stores the pages, along with supporting images, in their archive. They do not scan every page every day, but they get a good regular sampling so that you can see what a site contained on some date in the past. The St. Norbert College website has been scanned and downloaded over 500 times since its first scan in 1997.

To see an old version of a web page, visit the Wayback Machine and enter a URL. The site will provide a calendar of years, along with graphs to show the frequency and available snapshots. Then click a date and voila.

Why We Like It

The tool was created by the non-profit organization The Internet Archive in 1996. In addition to web pages, their archive includes texts, audio, moving images and software.

Not only can you satisfy your curiosity to see how a web site has progressed over the years, you can also find an old version of a web page that may no longer be available elsewhere. If you ever go searching for web content that you know existed at some point but you can’t find it, the Wayback Machine just may have it!

Related Links

The Internet Archive is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that “is building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form.” The site offers free access to its resources. More information on The Internet Archive can be found at:

Category: Tech Tips