The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine is a treasure trove containing 439 billion web pages saved over 19 years of internet history. And it’s about to get even more amazing with its very own search engine.
With a $1.9 million donation from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the Wayback Machine will become a searchable database of what the web used to look like. Right now you can only find an old webpage if you have the exact url. For example, if you search “Facebook.com” and navigate to August 28, 2005, you get this:
Or “Aol.com” on May 28, 2002:
You get the idea. It’s pretty awesome. As Gizmodo notes, pages usually only last around 100 days live on the web before being deleted, and a good search function would make it much easier for those looking back to see how the web has changed (and continues to change). The folks at the Internet Archive also promise more content, improved scope and quality, and better functionality as part of a complete overhaul of the site. For example, the new site will allow you to search by keyword, something you can't do now.
The new and improved Wayback Machine won’t launch until sometime in 2017, but if you’ve never fallen down the rabbit hole of "internet of days past," we recommend starting now.