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The Internet Archive Part 1 - The Wayback Machine

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This week we'll explore the Internet Archive, a modern-day cabinet of wonders-slash-library that hosts tons of educational (and fun) materials online. First stop: The Wayback Machine.

Ever wondered what a web site looked like ten years ago? The Wayback Machine likely has the answer. This service of the Internet Archive started in 1996, actively archiving large chunks of the web. While it hasn't indexed every web site out there, it has gotten quite a few.

Let's take a case study -- mentalfloss.com! The domain first appears in the Wayback archive on August 12, 2002 - advertising Issue 4 of the magazine and sporting a minimalist design. By September 24, 2002 the site had been fleshed out with more sections, though unfortunately not all the images have been cached by the Wayback Machine -- so it's hard to tell what most of the page looked like. By the end of 2003, the site was highly developed, with a Store, Quiz/Fact Library, Email Newsletter, and lots more. Interesting, eh?

There are many other fun examples: CNN.com in June of 2000 - then-President Clinton looking forward to a Democratic victory in the election, Apple.com in October 1996 - advertising a new 117MHz PowerBook and a 28.8Kbps modem, Microsoft.com in October 1996 - touting Windows 95 and Windows NT, and Enron in November 1999 - with the slogan "Endless possibilities."

The Wayback Machine boasts 85 billion archived pages since 1996, stored in an enormous server room. See also: the Wayback Machine FAQ, Web Collaborations with the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress, and Archive-It.org. Tomorrow: more fantastic stuff from the Internet Archive!

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Carol Munro // Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0
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technology
The End Is Near for Microsoft Paint
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Carol Munro // Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0

Microsoft Paint is one of the few programs that has come standard in every Windows operating system since the tech company was founded. Now, after a 32-year run, The Telegraph reports that MS Paint is set to be discontinued.

When the program was introduced as part of Windows 1.0 in 1985, MS Paint allowed users to sketch doodles with their cursor on a blank canvas. The low-tech concept hasn’t evolved much since then, but MS Paint still maintains a loyal fan base, attracting 100 million users a month in 2016. Now, those artists will have to go elsewhere to create their digital masterpieces: In its recent announcement of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, Microsoft listed Paint as a “deprecated” app, which means the company will no longer support it and it will probably disappear from future Windows versions.

In place of Paint, Microsoft is launching a more advanced art-making app called Paint 3D. Like the original program, Paint 3D allows users to create quick drawings using digital pens and paintbrushes. But the new feature is geared more toward creating 3D art, something that was never offered in MS Paint.

When the Fall Creators update comes out in September, it may mark the end of an era for Windows users. But don’t count on MS Paint being out of the game for good—Microsoft has been known to revive classic features, as was the case with Clip Art in 2016.

[h/t The Telegraph]

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Internet Archive // Sketch the Cow
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Play the Sneakers Computer Press Kit from 1992
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Internet Archive // Sketch the Cow

In September 1992, the computer hacking movie Sneakers hit theaters. To correspond with its launch, members of the press received a floppy disk containing a mysterious DOS program that, when launched, asked for a password. Once the reporters "hacked" their way in, they found the Sneakers Computer Press Kit. Thanks to the Internet Archive, you can play at being the film press of 1992.

It's hard to characterize exactly what this electronic press kit is. Is it a game? Sort of. It's essentially a very gentle computer hacking simulator, in which the "hacking" consists entirely of guessing passwords (complete with helpful prompts from the program itself), and the payload you discover is silly stuff like mini-biographies of Robert Redford, Dan Aykroyd, and Sidney Poitier. Still, it's a good match for the film itself, which helped set the template for Hollywood depictions of computer hacking.

A paper folder lies open on a wooden floor, with a black floppy disk on top. The folder is labeled SNEAKERS in giant red letters, as is the floppy. Inside the folder is printed material. On the right flap of the folder are instructions on how to load it.
Inside the Sneakers Computer Press Kit's paper folder. (The right flap contains installation instructions, along with a note that the studio will FedEx printed material if the user doesn't have access to a printer.)
Internet Archive // Sketch the Cow

Always remember: "My voice is my passport. Verify me." Now, get cracking on this press kit and don't be flummoxed—if you can't figure out a password right away, just wait a moment.

(Incidentally, Sneakers did also include printed materials for the press, in case they lacked a computer and/or the patience to deal with this approach. But who in the world would look at that, when they could play with this? There's also a method in the Computer Press Kit that allows the user to print out more detailed materials—provided they have a printer, and it's attached to a particular printer port on the computer.)

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