The Wayback Machine – or is it the WABAC Machine?

The Internet Archive – also known as the Wayback Machine – is one of those most amazing pieces of internet technology that just chugs along in the background. As they say, once something is posted online, it never goes away and in many cases, that’s a good thing! As we age and history gets fuzzier, this is a great resource to remember the real deal.

One of the things I’m quite proud of is the development of the first robust Snipe Class web site and all of this is enshrined in bits in the Internet Archive which makes going back to review events during a specific time really easy.

Here is a brief history of the class web site. Ultimately this was version 2.0 of the class web site: 2.0 (1997-2002)

Version 1.0 was originally set up by Steve Keckler as his personal homepage at MIT. I started to work with him to build out some content and after a couple years it became inappropriate to host it on a school server so we registered the domain (using the old Network Solutions template, a story in and of itself – how the world has changed for the better!) and moved it to a new host (David McCreary’s Sailing Source).

While the site was pretty pedestrian by today’s standards (it used frames and was 100% hand coded in notepad to early HTML markup standards) it had some innovative content features, notable a “blog”. Albeit 100% manually coded, it was a version of what frameworks like WordPress do now automatically. Look familiar? Blogging before blogging was cool:

The original “blog” feature of the Snipe Class site

Eventually I burned out with young kids afoot and transitioned management of to Don Bedford in San Diego who redeisgned, updated and modernized it (using PHP). This was version 3.0. Then it was transitioned to some folks in Italy using Joomla (version 4.0).

But I digress, back to the Wayback Machine… and what prompted this piece.

Most recently Spinsheet Magazine posted some covers from their first year in 1995 and there is a shot of my Cleveland mate Terry McSweeney (we were each others’ best men) in his old Mueller Snipe “Instant Replay” (our old Mueller Snipes spent a lot of time doubled up going to regattas). Lisa and I were trying to figure out where/when this was.

At the time I was maintaining and was doing a LOT of regattas. I was writing and posting regatta reports for any regatta I attended and those others sent to me. It was an exciting time for sure as the web was exploding as a real time distribution medium. Today we have sites like Snipe Today and of course all kinds of social media. But it’s fun to think back on that time as the beginning of the transition to digital media.

So how to figure out where this was taken? Must be a 1995 regatta in Annapolis given the cover. While I did make a full copy of prior to transitioning to Don, it is on a DVD and a pain to get to, so I just head over to the Wayback Machine and look at results from the two 1995 SSA invitationals Colonial Cup and Frigid Digit. Bingo, Terry was at Colonial Cup so that was definitely where the shot was taken.

Lisa got a kick out of this and being the dutiful fleet captain did a social media post about it. I am always finding tie ins to various favorite cartoons from my childhood (“that boy, I say, that boy is punchier than a drill press!” – know that one??) and what comes to mind here is Peabody and his boy Sherman from Bullwinkle and their WABAC Machine. I had to make a comment on Lisa’s fleet post about this with a doctored screenshot from the cartoon:

But either no Snipe Fleet 532 members are Bullwinkle fans, they just think my sense of humor is stupid (there is no Facebook reaction “stupid”) or I am just old because I was the only person who “HaHa-ed” this. Regardless, it cracked me up and got me to watch a few Bullwinkle cartoons, undoubtedly one of the best cartoon shows EVER. To refresh your memory, here’s a nautical themed episode of Peabody and Sherman and the WABAC machine (as it is referred to in the cartoon).

And to tie it all together, the Wayback Machine is actually named in honor of the WABAC Machine, so Brewster Kahle, the founder of the Internet Archive is no doubt a Bullwinkle fan!

And for the record, I definitely identify with Sherman more than Peabody…

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