The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #57471   Message #907672
Posted By: Bob Bolton
11-Mar-03 - 04:42 PM
Thread Name: Sound archives decaying
Subject: RE: Sound archives decaying
G'day GUEST (11 Mar 03 - 01:08 PM)

Your Paragraph:
" ... and the DBX digital audio-on-VHS-tapes system that was popular for a couple of years require playback equipment made by only one manufacturer. Will they be available fifty years from now?"

The situation for this particular technology is even worse (here in Australia, anyway!). I have a box full of Beta(Cam?) tapes recorded by the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission [now Corporation])at '90s Bush Music Festivals. These have been encoded via a PCM (Pulse Code Modulator) ... into a Beta machine. It is reasonably possible to find a good Beta or BetaCam player - but PCMs make rocking horse droppings look common!

My usual retieval/conversion service, Archival Revival, can happily extract sound from a wax Edison cylinder from 1900 ... or bake up sticky studio tapes from 1980 to remaster ... but they can't locate a PCM to retrieve digital recordings from 1995! (I must admit that I have now tracked down an acquaintance who made up PCMs, from scratch, for special medical research recorders ... if he can still get the parts ... and the spec for the PCM conversion ... he might be able to decode this one - but we are talking about a process still in use little more than a decade ago.)

Copy it all now, if you have the appropriate technology. Store it on the best media you can reasonably obtain. Detail all the tracks, informants/performers/events/dates and attach that to both originals and new format copies. Store the originals - and the data -under the best possible archival conditions.

Maybe it will survive!


Bob Bolton