Art enthusiasts have the Lourve, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and thousands of additional sites in cities around the world in which to indulge in the aesthetic pleasures of painting, sculpture and a variety of other mediums. For devotees of the physical sciences, there are the impressive collections at the Field Museum in Chicago and the Smithsonian complex in Washington, D.C. Enthusiasts of IT have a museum of sorts as well, but they don’t have to leave their houses to get there. It’s called the Wayback Machine, and it’s not to be confused with the apparatus that the bespectacled dog Peabody and his pet boy Sherman used to travel through time on the old “Peabody’s Improbable History” cartoon shorts.
With the Wayback Machine, which can be accessed online, users can look at how many Web sites appeared between 1996 and the present day. A comparison between this virtual archive and the aforementioned museums shows that in many respects, the former is far superior. Unlike several of those institutions, the Wayback Machine is free. Additionally, with its approximately 10 billion Web pages, it holds about 100 terabytes of content, equivalent to all of the print materials held by the Library of Congress multiplied by 10. Needless to say, you can occupy quite a bit of time raking around on this thing.
Just for fun, I checked out the old CertMag Web site circa 1999. While there, I came across a feature there written by our own Ed Tittel on emerging IT certifications, in which he talked about CompTIA’s two extant credentials, A+ and Network+. (The organization now has 12 certifications, with an “RFID+” program in development.) There also was an article on the now-defunct HyCurve Internet certification program. However, I was surprised at how well most of the information in the other articles—such as one covering the importance of certification in IT job market in the white-hot late 1990s—had held up over time. The more things change, the more things stay the same, I guess.
You don’t have to be a techie to appreciate the retro view of the Internet that the Wayback Machine provides, though. It’s akin to looking through old newspapers, magazines and microfiche at the library, because it displays the information in its original form. For example, all of those pieces from our magazine can be found in the archives of our Web site, but you have to use the Wayback Machine to see it as it appeared initially. So, if you ever want to take a trip back in time that doesn’t involve DeLoreans or animated talking canines, just open a Web browser and visit the link below.
For more information, see http://web.archive.org.