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Re: [ARSCLIST] Long-term/preservation audio

In a message dated 6/25/03 5:50:02 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
arclists@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx writes:

> Hi, Lance,
>  Since the quality of reel-to-reel playback is very machine and technician
>  dependent I have serious doubts about the playability at highest quality of
>  an analog magnetic tape in 100 years time.
>  By then, the technology will be stone-age. Nobody will be around to
>  understand it. No one will care. It's dead technology now. It started dying
>  in the 1980s with Ampex leaving the business. Studer is now essentially out
>  of the tape recorder business.

The advantage of stone age technology is that stone age technology can access
it.  One can play a 78 rpm disc on a potters wheel with a swizzle stick in
the mouth. Magnetic recording playback of the type used 100 years ago can be
achieved in a well equipped blacksmith shop.  What could one do with a CD
starting from scratch in a home workshop?

It seems that there are two completely different types of long term
preservation.  One is designed to keep the audio content constantly available in the
best condition possible for the indefinite future.  At present the only way to
do that is to capture it with the highest resolution digital technology
available and then provide lossless migration as formats evolve.

However if one wants to put audio artifacts into a form that can be placed in
a time capsule (or very long term dead storage (salt mine?) for 50-100 years,
a medium that uses the simplest possible technology might be preferred.  Of
course 100 years from now it might be literally child's play to build a CD
player from scratch, but if they can do that, playing back a 1/4 in. 7-1/2 in/sec
tape would also be trivial.

Right now I am in the process of trying to find upgrades and drivers that
will allow me to access the files I made five years ago now that my new machine
uses Windows XP.  I restore sanity by listening to tapes I made fifty years ago
and that still play just fine on any of several decks I have around.

Mike Csontos

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