Tools you may have never known exist will uncover the past of websites that some may try to bury.
Ever wondered what the first-generation websites of today’s biggest companies looked like?
We received an email from Ken in Scottsdale, Arizona, raising a very interesting question about a website that once housed archives of old websites. Here’s what he had to say.
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“There used to be a website that had old websites on it. You could find what the first-generation website looked like for a particular company…I can’t find that website anymore. Do you know if it exists? Do you have the address? – Ken, Scottsdale, AZ”
As it turns out, there are a few different resources that you can use to find out what websites used to look like back in the day. Whether you’re trying to prove that a site policy showed a warranty period they later changed, a product seemed to disappear, or you are doing detective work for a presentation to look at the history of the web, these are the resources that you can use to find those older web pages.
1. Find old websites with The Wayback Machine
The Wayback Machine is on archive.org and is a non-profit digital library that offers free universal access to millions of websites, books, movies, software, music and other cultural artifacts. On the website, you can search for what other websites used to look like years ago. For example, I was able to go in and see what Yahoo’s website looked like from back in 1996.
How to use The Wayback Machine website
- Go to the Wayback Machine’s website
- Conduct a search in the Machine’s search bar, which is centered toward the top of the page. You can either type in a specific URL, or a few keywords relating to a site you are looking for
- Choose a site from the search results
- Select a year on the bar graph that runs along the top of the page to see what that site looked like in the past.
It’s important to note that the Wayback Machine doesn’t quite support keyword searches the way Google or Bing does. You should only search for specific sites.
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2. Find old websites with archive.today
Another site called archive.today allows you to look at older websites. I had to dig a little further with this one, but I managed to pull up this snapshot of Facebook from way back in 2006.
How to find old websites with archive.today
The website has a search tab that allows you to type in the URL you want to view, and it reveals thousands of search results for you. Once it spits out the results, it will give you two tabs, one called “Oldest” and another called “Newest.” This can help you to narrow down your search for exactly what ‘you’re looking for. You can also go to the “I want to search the archive for saved snapshots” to view more content.
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3. Find old websites with The Memento Project
The Memento project uses several resources to get the results you’re looking for, including The Wayback Machine.
How to find old websites with The Memento Project
- At the top of the website, you can select Time Travel from the dropdown menu, which brings you to a super convenient webpage where you can type in your URL and the exact date you’re looking for.
- Then, you will be led to a list of links that you can choose from that will lead you to your results.
- I tried typing in “Twitter this time in 2011”, and it led me right to where I wanted to go.
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Kurt’s key takeaways
If you want to take a look back at what the internet used to look like, these resources are the way to go. You can see how much the design of each of these sites has changed and grown over the years. I wonder how different they’ll look 10 or even 20 years from now. We’ll just have to wait and see.
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Do you miss the way the websites used to look? Or do you prefer the way sites look today? Let us know by writing us at Cyberguy.com/Contact.
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