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Read Part I of the Wayback Machine odyssey.
Read it up there? Or perhaps read it already. Good. By now, you should know the format: I choose a webpage from the Wayback Machine, I post it here, and then I post an addendum to mock its oldness. And I’m actually sober this time around, so no nonsense. Read the copyright disclaimer on the last post if you’re a lawyer. Ready? Ready.
Nokia.com on December 19th, 1996
Tearing my eyes away from the blinding HIGHLIGHTS gif, it somewhat concerns me that the digibox on the right looks identical to the model on one of the flat-screens around here. The multimedia gallery is full of some bizzare, alien codecs I’ve never seen before – the hell is VivoActive? – and even VLC, which normally plays absolutely anything, is left as stumped as Jeff Goldblum’s Powerbook rightfully should have been at the end of Independence Day.
Google.stanford.edu on November 11th, 1998
I tried to put this off as long as possible, because we all know what Google looked like when it started out. I kind of miss the exclamation mark.
To be much bigger, and then, the world.
Freewebs on September 28th, 2003
Ah, Freewebs, how so many of my early internet endeavours lie failed in your bosom. Not the very earliest, mind, which was a quite frankly embarrassing attempt on Google Sites, dating back to when I was thirteen and muddled LOL RANDOM with, you know, jokes. Thankfully, nobody read it. There are more, but they have been swept into the annals of history, where they shall stay until unearthed on the Wayback Machine. Full-circle!
MySpace on April 14th, 2006
Christ, memories. MySpace pages were more the preserve of my older brother’s generation, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t succumb to peer pressure and have one too. I remember it now, my page having a daft background of some glowing mushrooms nicked from a template site (blissfully unaware of the drug connotations), every single one of my friend’s pages being frazzling pink with TWINKLY NAME gifs and ‘about me’ sections cringeworthy of the highest magnitude. No, I’m not even going to search for my profile for fear of dying inside.
It amuses me no end that the new, slick redesigned “My_____” has the option to log in via ‘Connect with Facebook’.
Again, to wrap this up, the Wayback Machine could, in the right hands, actually be of useful historical record. Those hypothetical hands are not mine. Stick around for an equally hypothetical-at-this-point Part III.
Before I start, I should say that this amuses me far more than it should.
By now, you must have heard of the Internet Archive’s famed Wayback Machine. Of course you have, you clicked on the link above, didn’t you? The IA (as I’m going to refer to them, I’m sufferering from lazy hand syndrome and can’t be bothered typing out the whole name) started the service in the mid nineties to create a historical record of the internet. It continues to archive pages today, but more interestingly, it provides the archives for public view. Want to see what some popular websites looked like in days gone by? Read on.
All the screenshots in this article are fair dealing/fair use under UK and international law. Don’t sue me, for God’s sake.
Apple.com on May 9th, 1998
Starting with Apple, this is pretty much what you’d expect from a site from a time when 1024×768 was an extravagance, and RealPlayer ruled with an iron fist. The first thing that strikes you with any real use of the Wayback Machine is how tiny everything is. I’m going to respond to some of those job opportunities at the bottom there.
BBC News on 15th August, 2000
One thing that any user of the Wayback Machine will notice quickly is that archived pages before a certain cutoff don’t include images. For satisfying your cravings of visual stimulation, I’m posting the earliest snapshot with pretty pictures. Are some degree courses a joke? Yes, yes they are.
AOL UK on October 15th, 2000
“Welcome to AOL, you have email” – Ah, memories of my Mum signing into AOL on her beige box, and hearing this around the house. It’s unnerving to think that the internet was like this just ten years ago. Whatever happened to the AOL browser anyway?
Facebook from any point in history
Facebook looks a lot like this, thanks to actual privacy measures preventing private information being extracted by the likes of Google’s bots and the Wayback Machine. A pity really, as I’m sure it would have become a shrine for the ‘Old Facebook’ movement.
The Wayback Machine is a vaguely useful utility for historical record, or if you just want to write an article that could be summed up with “OLD INTERNET LOKS LIKE CRAP ROLF”. Take a look around if you want to post something on a blog whilst doing a minimal amount of actual tiresome writing. Score!
Stay tuned for Part II!