Knowledge for the World

Time Travel the Internet: View any website from (almost) any year

Most people don't know that you can look up past "snapshots" of almost any website. Archive.org is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was formed to build an expansive Internet library. Since 1996, the organization has been archiving digital content t

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Visit archive.org

Using your browser, navigate to http://archive.org.

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Enter the website you'd like to view and click Browse History

I decided to check out Amazon's humble roots since I've been reading the Jeff Bezos biography One Click.

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Select a year

The Archive.org meta crawler visits popular sites more often. Each blue circular bubble indicates that a snapshot exists. In my case I searched for Amazon, the 7th most popular site on the web; this explains the blue blur that you see below.

You might notice by the "annual" snapshot bar graphs that overall snapshots have increased over the years -- this is due to hard drive space becoming less expensive, resulting in more crawls being possible. After all, each snapshot isn't just a mere image -- it's an explorable version of the site.

From here, you can either select a blue bubble to view the relevant snapshot or choose a different year to view. Let's go deeper. Select an older year.

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Select a snapshot

After you've selected the year, find the specific date you'd like to explore. Explorable dates are denoted by the blue bubble. A larger bubble means that multiple snapshots exist for that date. Click on a date bubble.

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Bask in the glory of old design

It's interesting to see not only how web design has changed but also how far we've come in such a short period of time.

Amazon in 1996: See it in action

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Google in 1998
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YouTube in 2005
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eBay in 1999