At a microscopic level, web archives document the evolution of individual websites. At a macroscopic level, they document the evolution of the Web itself. In the case of web archives for the period when the entire Web consisted of only a handful of individual websites, changes to even a single website reflect changes to the Web itself. We are pleased to announce the availability of such an archive, notably featuring the oldest U.S. website, dating to December 21, 1991.
The website amounts to but five pages of the thousands of historical SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory web pages and related assets from 1991-1999 that we are making accessible. The archive is the result of an intensive collaboration and digital archaeology effort undertaken by Stanford University Libraries, the SLAC Archives and History Office, and alumni of the SLAC "WWW Wizards" group, and it is being launched co-incident with the year-long celebrations of the Web's 25th anniversary.
You can browse the web archive as you would any other website, but with added controls for temporal navigation, via the newly-deployed Stanford Web Archive Portal. You can learn more about the context and history of the early Web at SLAC via the online exhibit on the SLAC Archives and History Office website. Follow this blog or bookmark this post (to be updated) for links to follow-up posts later this week about interesting discoveries we made in exploring the archive and challenges encountered during the restoration process.
Please contact us with any feedback or questions. We hope that you enjoy exploring this important piece of the early Web!