Wayback Machine

Article

July 6, 2022

The Wayback Machine is a digital archive of the World Wide Web and other information on the Internet. It was launched in 2001 by a non-profit organization called the Internet Archive, based in San Francisco (California, USA).

History

In 2001, founders of the Internet Archive, Brewster Kale and Bruce Gilliat, launched the Wayback Machine project to solve the problem of disappearing content from websites every time they are changed or closed. The service allows users to view archived versions of web pages as they have changed over time, which the archive calls a "3D index". Kale and Gilliat created the service, hoping to archive the entire Internet and provide "universal access to all knowledge." The name Wayback Machine was chosen as a reference to the time travel device used by the characters Mr. Peabody and Sherman in the animated film The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show called the "WABAC machine" (pronounced wayback). In one part of this animated cartoon, Peabody's Incredible Story, the characters often use a time machine to witness, participate in, and, for the most part, change the course of famous historical events. In May 1996, the Wayback Machine began archiving cached web pages, with the goal of making the service publicly available five years later. From 1996 to 2001, the information was stored on magnetic tape, and Kale occasionally allowed researchers and scientists to connect to the bulky database. In 2001, when the archive was five years old, a ceremony was held to open it to the public at the University of California (Berkeley). At the time of the launch of the Wayback Machine, it already contained more than 10 billion archived pages. Currently, the data is stored on a large cluster of Linux computing nodes of the Internet Archive company. It periodically revisits and archives new versions of websites (see technical data below). Pages can also be archived manually by entering their URLs in the search box, provided the websites allow the Wayback Machine to crawl them and save the data.

Technical details

The Wayback Machine uses a special crawler to crawl the Internet and download all public web pages, the Gopher hierarchy, Usenet message boards, and downloadable software