Despite its name, the Wayback Machine is not a time travel machine from a science fiction movie or from a television cartoon. Instead, it is an archive of Internet pages.
Would you like to look at a Web page as it existed several years ago? Perhaps you want to look for information that was available on the Web at one time but has since disappeared. The Wayback Machine may be the tool you need. Now you can surf the Web as it was.
The Internet Archive, working with Alexa Internet, has created the Wayback Machine. The Wayback Machine is named after the famous Mr. Peabody's WABAC (pronounced way-back) machine from the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon show. This free service makes it possible to surf pages stored in the Internet Archive's web archive. The same service also archives text files, audio, and some video files.
The Wayback Machine is a 150 billion page web archive with a front end to serve it through the archive.org website.
The Wayback Machine a 20' by 8' by 8' "machine" that sits in Santa Clara, courtesy of Sun Microcomputer. It serves about 500 queries per second from the approximately 4.5 Petabytes (4.5 million gigabytes) of archived web data. The Wayback Machine is the largest known database in the world, containing multiple copies of the entire publicly available web. That is one huge disk farm!
The Wayback Machine was unveiled on October 24, 1996, and has been recording Web pages ever since. I used it this week to look at some Web pages that I have been maintaining for years, some of which are not connected with genealogy. It was interesting to look at some of my older HTML work. I also looked at some of today’s more popular genealogy Web sites. I must say that Ancestry.com has come a long way from their home page of October 28, 1996! (See http://web.archive.org/web/19961028055925/http://www.ancestry.com/).
You can search the 4.5 Petabytes Web archive on The Wayback Machine at: http://www.archive.org.