Google time machine

One of Google search’s underrated features is the ability to narrow search results by date. I recently rediscovered the joy of “reading back in time” to uncover long-forgotten news, opinions, and predictions.

What sort of things can you find?

One gem is from Clifford Stoll’s Why the Web Won’t be Nirvana, which boldly portended the demise of the world wide web in 1995.

The truth in [sic] no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works.


Another cool quote is from an Ars Technica iPhone review after it first launched in 2007.

Steve Jobs recently declared during an internal company meeting that he believes all phones will, some day, work the same way as the iPhone and that those who worked at Apple during the iPhone launch will be able to tell their grandchildren about it.

Sounds about right, even just 11 years later. Check out these other search results for iphone reviews in 2007.

With people talking a lot about Amazon nowadays, I checked out a CNET article about Amazon from 1998.

[Bezos] added that, in order to become a portal site, key components such as news, stock quotes, e-mail services, and most importantly a Web search engine must already be in place. “Of those four things, we are not doing any one of those things,” said Bezos. “Amazon is and has always been focused on being an e-commerce destination, and that will remain the focus.”

While others called for Amazon to get into the Internet portal business, Bezos’s focus on an e-commerce destination is admirable. There’s more to be found in search results for amazon in 1998

I’d love to see an app like “StumbleUpon” that surfaces cool historical search results and archived webpages from The Wayback Machine. Reading about technology history is both informative and entertaining. It also calibrates our judgment in the present day. With hysteria abounding about blockchain hype being another instance of the .com boom, a raw look at the past through search results can be quite refreshing.

January 2018