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Wayback machine

The meaning of «wayback machine»

The Wayback Machine is a digital archive of the World Wide Web. It was founded by the Internet Archive, a nonprofit library based in San Francisco, California. Created in 1996 and launched to the public in 2001, it allows the user to go "back in time" and see how websites looked in the past. Its founders, Brewster Kahle and Bruce Gilliat, developed the Wayback Machine to provide "universal access to all knowledge" by preserving archived copies of defunct web pages.

Since its creation in 1996, over 613 billion pages have been added to the archive. The service has also sparked controversy over whether creating archived pages without the owner's permission constitutes copyright infringement in certain jurisdictions.

The Wayback Machine began archiving cached web pages in May 1996,[1][2] with the goal of making the service public five years later.[3]

Internet Archive founders Brewster Kahle and Bruce Gilliat launched the Wayback Machine in San Francisco, California,[4] in October 2001,[5][6] primarily to address the problem of website content vanishing whenever it gets changed or when a website is shut down.[7] The service enables users to see archived versions of web pages across time, which the archive calls a "three-dimensional index".[8] Kahle and Gilliat created the machine hoping to archive the entire Internet and provide "universal access to all knowledge".[9] The name "Wayback Machine" is a reference to a fictional time-traveling and translation device, the "Wayback Machine", used by the characters Mister Peabody and Sherman in the animated cartoon The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends.[10][11] In one of the cartoon's segments, "Peabody's Improbable History", the characters used the machine to witness, participate in, and often alter famous events in history.

From 1996 to 2001, the information was kept on digital tape, with Kahle occasionally allowing researchers and scientists to tap into the "clunky" database.[12] When the archive reached its fifth anniversary in 2001, it was unveiled and opened to the public in a ceremony at the University of California, Berkeley.[13] By the time the Wayback Machine launched, it already contained over 10 billion archived pages.[14] The data is stored on the Internet Archive's large cluster of Linux nodes.[9] It revisits and archives new versions of websites on occasion (see technical details below).[15] Sites can also be captured manually by entering a website's URL into the search box, provided that the website allows the Wayback Machine to "crawl" it and save the data.[3]

On October 30, 2020, the Wayback Machine began fact-checking content.[16]

Software has been developed to "crawl" the Web and download all publicly accessible information and data files on webpages, the Gopher hierarchy, the Netnews (Usenet) bulletin board system, and downloadable software.[17] The information collected by these "crawlers" does not include all the information available on the Internet, since much of the data is restricted by the publisher or stored in databases that are not accessible. To overcome inconsistencies in partially cached websites, Archive-It.org was developed in 2005 by the Internet Archive as a means of allowing institutions and content creators to voluntarily harvest and preserve collections of digital content, and create digital archives.[18]

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Wayback Machine (Peabody's Improbable History)
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