Friday, April 24, 2009

Things to Make You Go 'Ulp.'

This promotional image of an early CD player is just one of many visual treats at SUNY Buffalo's Retro Media page.

It's also a feast for the conscience of any self-respecting packrat, including this bracing summary of the life-span of various forms of media, past and present:

3.5” floppy drive (Introduced 1980)

Less than 3% of computers sold today have a floppy drive. Expected data life: 5-6 years or less

mp3 Player (Introduced 1998)

All the rage now, but will Vorbis, WMA Pro, AAC, or ?? supersede it?
Expected life of device: 3-5 years, but what does a 1-year warranty imply?

Flash Drive (Introduced 2000)

USB ports are ubiquitous, for now. Expected life of data: 10 years (assuming you don’t lose it.)

DVD-Blue Ray (Introduced 2006)

Regular DVD format introduced less than 10 years ago. The descent to obsolescence has already begun.
Expected life of data: 10-12 years

Printed book (9th century China wood block, 1140 CE moveable type)

Expected life of data: 1,000 years

Shoe box of family photographs and computer hard drive

Will your grandchildren be able to find any pictures of you? Photographs can last over 100 years depending on storage. Hard drives last 5-8 years at best.
If you are one of those people untroubled with any concern about whether the images and sounds you store today will be usable in the distant future, count yourself fortunate. The rest of us have fresh reasons to fret.

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