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Tapes, with proper care, can last a fairly long time. Just be careful, though, of being lulled into a sense of security. It all depends on how you store the tape (tails out, proper temperature and humidity, sheilding from electromagnetic fields, etc.), how often you play it and the condition of the playback machine (demagnetized, clean, etc.). Alway make backup copies of tapes, put the master away, and use the copies. 

Damien J. Moody
Information Technology Services
Library of Congress

>>> [log in to unmask] 03/23/05 5:57 PM >>>

----- Original Message -----
From: "Richard Warren" <[log in to unmask]>
> Quarter-track tapes on 1/4-inch tape have such narrow tracks as to be
> little better than audiocassettes for longevity and are extremely
sensitive
> to head alignment and differences between machines. So they are certainly
> less reliable than half or full track tapes.
I'm not an archivist (though I might qualify considering the stuff I've
accumulated)...but I have a fair number of cassettes I taped in the
1980-83 period, and even a few I taped back in 1968 or so (old Philips
tapes from when that was all you could buy)...and they are all still
playable.

Steven C. Barr