The Nuclear Weapon Archive is descended from an early web site named the High Energy Weapons Archive (HEWA) founded in November 1994 by Gary Au, then a student at Melbourne University, Australia. Gary managed the site for 14 months, then upon graduation he took a job at the Australian Department of Defence as a military scientist and Gary was forced to relinquish responsibility for the archive for security reasons.
Administration of the site was assumed on 15 January 1996 by Carey Sublette of the United States who was already the site's principal contributor.
The site's principal host and mirrors have migrated several times over the years. It moved from Melbourne University in August 1995 when activity on the site reached unprecedented levels connected with the fiftieth aniversary of the atomic bombing of Japan. This attracted the attention of university officials, who then closed the site down through the belated and selective enforcement of university regulations concerning the use of computing facilities.
Since then it has been variously hosted by sites in Finland, Italy and the United States. Its most recent (discontinued) hosts include the Federation of American scientists and Enviroweb. Its current host is the Membrane Domain.
The problems of broken links associated with migrating hosts prompted the registration of a domain name for the site in August 2003: nuclearweaponarchive.org. It is intended that this domain will remain in operation indefinitely and provide reliable access to the site's content. Coinciding with the adoption of the nuclearweaponarchive.org domain, the site was rechristened The Nuclear Weapon Archive, a more accurate description of the site's content.