The Way Back Machine

Last week we needed to find the logo of a company we were involved in that was sold in 1999 and hasn’t existed in over four years. We emailed the former CEO, we emailed a bunch of other people. No luck.

Then I remembered that Brewster Kahle’s Alexa Internet had created this huge Internet archive back in 1996. I wondered what had happened to it. So I went to www.alexa.com which took me to Amazon, which had bought Alexa. That was a bummer, but I kept going, clicking and searching the Alexa/Amazon site.

And I found it. It’s called The Internet Archive Way Back Machine.

I typed in the URL of the old company. Sure enough, this service had captured about 10 different instances of that company’s website listed by date. I clicked on one of them and surfed the whole site like it was still up on the web today. It was eerie and cool and fantastic.

I’ve been thinking about this service ever since. There is so much that can be learned from the evolution of information, people, commerce, links and content – all the good stuff that makes up the Internet today.

I am not sure what business opportunities can come out of this archive, but I’m sure glad it exists and I hope some smart entrepreneurs figure out how to make a business out of it so it survives and thrives.

Oh, and if you are wondering, I found the logo. It’s on my hard disk now.