I am cross-posting this to all three ARSC lists to throw a wide net, but
PLEASE let's continue the discussion on the main ARSClist.
Remember Mike Casey's word at the ARSC conference, Degralescence?
I think this inclusively describes what we are fighting. While thinking
about degradation, please don't lose sight of the obsolescence of the
playback machines which will cause some formats to "fail" before the
media technically fails.
I just made a post about some laboratory work that might be undertaken
to further enhance our understanding of degradation processes. Looking
at that long term, we need to project what we will still have in our
untransferred heap'o'stuff by 2031 -- the 15 year window that was
It seems that many repositories are ahead of us here in North America,
based on the papers at the ARSC conference. A quick shout out to
Australia and Belgium (among others) for jobs well done.
So to aid in the selection of analytical processes to undertake, we need
to understand what will remain untransferred after our current surge of
transferring is complete.
We cannot predicate broad generalities for the one-off oddball format.
The biggest unknowns are related to what hoards of media will surface
from private collectors/accumulators and those are the media we need to
prepare to be able to transfer them for the long-term (>15 years).
Alternatively, we need to pro-actively identify within our archives the
most at-risk formats.
Looking forward a decade and a half, I would like to make some broad and
Must be transferred within the next 15 years:
Any format that has a moving head. Phew, that covers many. Consider:
--essentially every video tape format ever commercialized
--RDAT (DAT), ADAT, DTRS
--some dictation formats
--some voice logging systems, especially those based on DDS/DAT
and VHS/8 mm video drives
--many instrumentation/data tapes
--Ampex FR-900 (2" Moonviews), DST (3/4"); Sony DIR (3/4")
--Redwood SD-3, DTF, Sony SAIT (1/2")
--Data8, Mammoth, Sony AIT, VXA (8 mm)
--DDS (3.81 mm - Data DAT)
Any format with known physical/chemical instability or are exceptionally
difficult to reproduce
--acetate grooved media
--aluminum grooved media
--some acetate reel tape
A host of other less widely used formats, including
--specialized cassette formats (3-, 4-, and 8-track)
--many longitudinal cassette/cartridge formats in
special shells on 0.125, 0.150, and 0.250-inch tape
--all digital dedicated machines Sony DASH, Mitsubishi, etc.
--minidisc (especially the later HiMD and the ones used in
MD-based "porta studios")
--longitudinal data, logging, and instrumentation formats
Any optical media that we really want to keep
--Laserdisc, Magneto-optical data discs, CD, DVD, Blue-Ray (BD)
--SACD is at risk now due to lack of players
So what does that leave us to transfer after 2031? I propose that the
items which can be maintained the longest are open reel 1/4-inch audio
tape machines, and equipment for playing grooved media that is not
self-destructing (like acetates). I suspect that the ripping of CDs and
DVDs (and possibly BDs) will continue past 2031, but there is currently
a small, but measurable disc failure rate.
I suspect also through sheer volume we will need to keep audio cassette
playback alive past 2031, though that is fussier than open reel tape,
and may be more difficult.
Of course, others will pick other technologies and I fear that my
conclusion may be affected by my personal biases and expertise, but I've
tried to be objective looking at parts complexity and availability and
What do you think of this list? What else might we maintain capability
of playing past 2031? What will we need to maintain past 2031?
Comments to ARSCLIST please.
Richard L. Hess email: [log in to unmask]
Aurora, Ontario, Canada 647 479 2800
Quality tape transfers -- even from hard-to-play tapes.