Trip Down Memory Stick Lane: Websites from Wayback

Did you know that there's an online service called the "Wayback Machine" that lets you browse websites from, well, way back? I discovered it this afternoon and it's absolutely fascinating. All sorts of sites that I frequently visit are stored in there and preserved in cyber vinegar for us to stare at and tap. Entertaining and ever so slightly haunting, I also found it quite educational to take a peek at how various websites looked back in say 2006, or even 1996.

For most of us it's a fun blast from the past, but for younger online users they can see how their favourite websites looked... before they were born!

Not all websites are in there and some legal disputes have risen over the years regarding the Wayback Machine. There is an opt-out service, so some big bad wolves who don't want you prying at their digital get-up from the turn of the century can stop you from doing so by placing robot.txts in their code to stop Alexa from crawling it (image of Keanu Reeves fighting a platinum turantula anyone?).

Some of you will find this very boring, but for those of you who, like me, harbour a secret geek somewhere behind all that chic - here are some screen grabs for you of sites that interested me...

> Alexander McQueen's site, eagerly anticipated and "coming soon", WAYBACK in 2004:

> The Guardian's website, called Guardian Unlimited, WAYBACK in 2005, looking a bit like a betting website or a socialist student newspaper:

If you look at the Guardian's homepages from the 90s, they're the sort of thing you'd expect from a local village hall website. Still, pioneering considering how WAYBACK it was.

> Hotmail's login page WAYBACK in 2000, looking a like hosepipe warranty or the sticker on a tub of protein powder:

> J.K.Rowling's official site WAYBACK in 2001 when she was popular but not exactly a big deal (a few billion pounds later and a more flash website appeared):

From McDonalds to Michael Jackson, it's all in there.
Ooh, and there's a brilliant blog all about crap old websites here: Your Crap Old Website - the posts on Madonna, theme parks and Gay Times are very amusing.

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