Raiding the WebArchive – Discover These 13 Rare Gems

Ahh, the WebArchive (aka the WayBackMachine, Internet WayBack and the Internet Archive). Where else can you play your favorite childhood videogames, listen to thousands of recorded concerts, access a HUGE library of audiobooks, and so much more – all without paying a cent? We were so bummed that this resource is so underutilized that we’re doing something about it. We’re gonna tell the people. We’re going to start a revolution. We’re…gonna go take our medicine, now…

And, we’re back.

Check this. Presumably, you’ve heard of the WebArchive and you’ve probably even used it to find out stuff like what a deleted website looked like 20 years ago by using the WayBack Machine. But have you ever really taken the time to appreciate the innate beauty of the WebArchive? Have you? Really?! 

Well, just in case you have had better things to do these past 20 years, we’re going to save you a lot of trouble (you’re welcome) and spoonfeed you these 13 gems of the WebArchive…

Books to Borrow (Digital Library)

Books to Borrow in the WebArchive
Books to Borrow section of the WebArchive

You can literally check out your favorite books from the WebArchive Borrow A Book section. Similar to a conventional library, you just find a book you like, make an account for yourself and then check it out for two weeks. You can read it in your browser or you have the option to use  Adobe Digital Editions, which works somewhat like Kindle.

The search features are quite robust. You can search by author name, book title, year, topic, language and more. So if you want to find out what books that were published in the 1920’s or if you want to find books that mention Lake Placid or if you want to check out a book by Dave Barry, you can. 

In fact, the WebArchive book library has an impressive Advanced Search, too, great for finding the perfect read or for doing research for your next big project. 

Internet Archive's Advanced Search
WebArchive Advanced Search

Open Library – WebArchive

Open Library - WebArchive
Open Library of the Internet Archive

I know what you’re thinking, what is the difference between the Open Library and the Books to Borrow section of the WebArchive? We’ll I’ll tell you. Kind of like Wikipedia, the Open Library allows commoners—like you and me—to upload and make changes to this library. That’s why they call it an ‘Open’ library.

Lots of Local Libraries

You can also, check out books from the collections from American libraries, the Canadian libraries, Universal Library, community texts (contributed by users), Project Gutenberg, the Biodiversity Heritage Library, and, last but not least, the Children’s Library

There is so much to look through that the only problem might be the overwhelm. However, if you already have an idea of the book you want, you can search in the main books section.

Pro Tip: It is possible to access all of the 2,542,168 books of all WebArchive libraries at once but they don’t make it obvious. To do so, go to the “Books” section of the main menu and click on “All Books.” Then you can search through one of the largest libraries on the planet to your heart’s content.

How to access a database of 2,542,168 books in the Books section of the WebArchive
Access a database of 2,542,168 books in the Books section of the WebArchive

AudioBooks – Libravox

Eat Your Heart out Audible! This treasure trove of free audiobooks will keep you busy for pretty much ever. Unless, of course, you like listening to new books. But if you’re not too particular and you’re happy with the time-tested classics such as the Art of War, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Dracula, consider this the end of your rainbow. Because, pot of gold. Get it?  

And if you’re children are a little nerdy and not too spoiled (I know this is getting to be a rare phenomenon), you can keep them entertained on long car trips with these free audio children’s books.

WebArchive Live Music Recordings

Blues Traveler recordings in the database
From the Blues Traveler category of the Live Music Recordings section of the WebArchive

If you’re a groupie or deadhead or just like the experience of hearing a live show (without the actual ‘live’ aspect of it), this is the place for you – welcome to the Live Music Archive section of the WebArchive. 

Overall, recordings of the Grateful Dead completely rule here. There’s even a dedicated section of the website to Grateful Dead concerts with over 12,000 recordings strong. And there are plenty of other concert gems to be found such as Blues Traveler, Matisyahu, Spin Doctors and a bunch more.

WebArchive Old Radio Recordings

Old-time radio recordings in the database
Old-time radio recordings in the Internet Archive

Even if you have no idea what you’re looking at here, just browsing through the titles of these classic radio recordings is quite fun. If you consider that radio used to be the entertainment vertical of choice, and most of the talented writers and producers in the industry were there, you can see why there’s a lot of entertainment value in these. It can also be fun just to see what your grandparents used to like listening to.

And for a deeper look at what this section of the WebArchive has to offer, check out this post about old time radio shows.

78 RPMs and Cylinder Record Music Albums

Snapshot of House of the Rising Sun by performer “Josh White and his Guitar”
Snapshot of House of the Rising Sun by performer “Josh White and his Guitar” from the WebArchive

Now that records are having a hipster revival, it’s time to let a little secret out of the bag – a whole bunch of the best musical albums of yesteryear are available for free in the 78 RPMs and Cylinder Recordings section of the Internet WebArchive.

Here’s a novel recording of Woodie Guthrie singing House of the Rising Sun where he says “It’s been the ruin of many a poor girl and G-d I know I’m one.”

Video Games (So Many Video Games…)

Sample of some of the Arcade games available in the Internet Archive
Sample of some of the Arcade games available in the WebArchive

Imagine a younger version of yourself in the 80s being told that one day you’ll be able to access all of the best video games of the day for free and play them any time you want. It’s kind of hard to imagine the boundless joy you would have felt – and can feel…

Here’s the scoop. You can actually play video games right online in the Software section of the Internet WebArchive. Trust me, you could stay up all night just trying out all of the different versions of PacMan available. There are options. So many options.

Warning: it can take some time to download the game metadata, and it can also be somewhat of a challenge to get the hang of which keyboard buttons you’re supposed to push. But, all in all it’s a blast.

They have a section called Console Living Room for home console types of video games such as: Sega Genesis (564 games), PlayStation (2515 games), and Atari 2600 (519 games).

Internet Arcade header

They have a section for Classic PC computer games (13,763 games), MS-Dos games (6,932 games), and ZX Spectrum Games. Not to mention all of the 1,746 bonafide arcade games available. 

Old Magazines in the WayBack Machine

Archived magazines from 1944
Archived magazines from 1944 – Internet Archive

The WebArchive has a great listing of back covers of all types of magazines.

Other than the fact that it’s fun to see what people used to think was cool by looking at decades-old magazines – old magazines can be really useful. And not just if you happen to have a research report to do. What if you just want to learn about stuff that doesn’t really change much over time? Here are a few examples of magazines whose content can be long-term relevant:

  • Knitting patterns – get great knitting patterns from these good old knitting magazines. These types of patterns could easily cost money online, but here you get them free. 
  • Hobby ideas – get great ideas for hobby how-tos from these old versions of Meccano Magazine
  • Boy entertainment – Back issues of Sick Magazine and MAD Magazine can keep you busy for hours and hours and hours. 
  • Recipes – find timeless recipes in these old cooking magazines.


From the archived movie His New Job ft. Charlie Chaplin
From the archived movie His New Job ft. Charlie Chaplin – WebArchive

Here it is. A whole bunch of classic comedy films free for download to watch anytime. Featuring the Three Stooges, Charlie Chaplain and lots more. And here is a collection of Film Noir, “expressionistic crime dramas of the 40s and 50s.”

Business Uses of the WebArchive

For marketing and planning your business needs, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel here. You really don’t. If you look into the internet archive, you can see that most of the ideas floating around today have been around the block quite a few times in different ways. Here are some great uses of the WebArchive for business:

TV Shows in the WayBack Machine

Television shows from 1955 viewable for free through the WayBack Machine
Television shows from 1955 viewable for free from the Internet Archive

For the greatest classic TV shows available, look no further. But if you want vintage cartoons specifically, do not pass go, go directly to the Vintage Cartoons section.


The WebArchive even has a special Family History Library, which can be an incredible resource for genealogy research.

WebArchive – The Bottom Line

Now that you know what’s available, you can go check out the WebArchive any time you want. Pretty cool, huh? Whether you’re doing research or you just want to be entertained for years on end, the WebArchive WayBack Machine seemingly has it all.