Time traveling via Google

Search giant's news archive offers readers fascinating glimpse into past

Like most heavy Internet users, I rely on Google's search engine nearly every single day.

I use it mostly to find news about tech topics, clicking first on the "Technology" link on the left side of the Google News menu, and then either scrolling down the headlines in the middle or clicking on a specific technology topic listed in the left menu. Sometimes I'll do a specific word search from there if the topic I'm interested in isn't listed.

But until Monday I hadn't noticed a feature at the bottom of the results for specific searches. I did a search on "Apple" and got headlines about Cyber Monday, iPad-crazed toddlers, a Siri hack and iPhone 4S sales in the U.K. Pretty standard fare.

But at the bottom I saw a provocative headline that said "Maggot In The Apple." The article was published in the Indian Express. Was it a condemnation of working conditions in the overseas manufacturing plants used by Apple? Some alleged skullduggery on the part of an Apple executive?

No such thing. It was a scathing article about Adolph Hitler, published on May 19, 1941.

Another headline in the "news archive results" read, "As We See It: A Bad Apple." It was an editorial published in the Milwaukee Sentinel on Oct. 9, 1961, lauding President Kennedy for his tough negotiating stance in talks with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko regarding the stalemate over West Berlin.

Not exactly on point as far as my search, but fascinating to a history buff.

Then I tried "IBM" and got a bunch of current IBM articles, along with a Milwaukee Journal article from Jan. 18, 1969, about the "U.S. antitrust action filed against IBM." (The Justice Department action against Big Blue stretched on for 13 years before being dismissed in 1982. AT&T should consider itself lucky.)

Do a search on "computer" and you'll find a 1978 article from the Deseret News about President Carter scrubbing the sale of a "sophisticated" Sperry-Univac computer to the Soviet Union.

A search for "wireless" strikes real gold, with a Pittsburgh Press article from April 15, 1912, informing readers that, according to the "latest wireless dispatch," aid has reached a damaged ship called the Titanic. A sub-headline proclaimed a "Hope to Save Big Liner." It didn't quite work out that way, as we know.

You don't get news archive returns for every search, and there seems to be a disproportionate number from the Milwaukee papers and the Deseret paper. But if you like to read about historical events as they happen -- via scanned newspaper pages, no less, not HTML text -- Google's news archive is like your own little time machine.

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