Stepping back in time

I've been writing an article for one of my other blogs and I needed to check the original price for a dress. Unfortunately, it was from the previous season and was no longer featured on the manufacturer's website. Not a problem! I duly opened a tab in my browser and looked up the Wayback Machine.

"The what now?" you ask. The Wayback Machine, available through, is a digital archive of the World Wide Web established by the Internet Archive way back (intentional) in 1996. Essentially, the service crawls websites and saves snapshots at various times. Entering a website address into the Wayback Machine returns a calendar of snapshots and you can then select which version of the website you want to look through. In my case, August 2013 was the right month.

Internet Archive: Digital Library of Free Books, Movies, Music & Wayback Machine

It can be fun to look at the changing face of a company's online brand or even reminisce at the giants that were and have faded into interweb legend: just take at gander at my favourite search engine of the late nineties and early noughties, the ever polite and helpful Ask Jeeves.

Not all sites are available on the Wayback Machine: sometimes site owners prohibit crawling their sites or content is locked in password protected areas. The Wayback Machine is best at crawling static content. Don't expect miracles of interactivity; and certainly don't expect websites to be fully functional, but as a research and reference tool, even for something as simple as looking up the price you paid for a product, it is an excellent resource.
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