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Subject:Re: Why we'll never be paperless From:Richard Lippincott <rlippinc -at- BEV -dot- ETN -dot- COM> Date:Fri, 27 Jan 1995 10:05:34 EST
Regarding paper vs. electronic documents, Michael Priestley asked:
>How long does a CD last? They haven't been around for generations yet,
>so it's hard to tell how fast they become unusable, ...
The problem isn't always the durability of the file, it's the durability of
the equipment to read that file.
I've got some 8-track audio tapes at home, I presume the data on them is still
as good as it ever was. I have no access to a working 8-track player.
I've got a load of historical files on 3.5" floppies, formatted to run on my
1989 vintage Brother word processor. That machine is getting cranky, and there
is no replacement. (Newer generation Brother products don't read these disks.)
I can fit the disks in a PC, and the data is on the disk, but it is unreadable
in PC, Mac, or even UNIX formats. When that word processor quits, the data is
I've got some 1/2" video tape that I shot 20 years ago, using what was then
the state of the art video technology. So far as I know, the data is still on
the tapes. I am not aware of any working machine left in the U.S. that will
read these tapes. The video images of my family and home is effectivly lost,
even though the data is intact.
I have a stack of VHS format videotapes at home, as well as some CDs. I foster
no illusion that I will be able to find working equipment in either format when
I'm retired. Already, CD formats are changing, all we need is a switch to a
smaller size CD format, and all existing CDs will be unreadable when the
existing CD drives fail over time.
I also have a scrapbook at home, it came from my late grandparent's basement.
When I first opened it, I found a photograph from 1917, of a man I had never
seen before, but knew by name. A nearly 80-year old image of my great grand-
father. Now I know what he looks like.
Good thing the 80-year old stock certificate that was also stuck in the
scrapbook was paper, not electronic......
rlippinc -at- bev -dot- etn -dot- com