Voices from the past – 120 years

120 years ago, in 1888, the new Edison Phonograph was used to record over 3000 voices singing in the Crystal Palace. They are the oldest audio recordings still in existence from Great Britain.

The original wax cylinders have been converted to MP3.

The recordings are noisy and faint but you can clearly hear the music.

In the year 2130 will they be able to play a MP3? How about a DVD or a CD?

In my lifetime, I’ve seen recording formats come and go. The 45, the LP, Reel to Reel, 8 track, Cassette Tape, CD, Betamax, VHS tape and DVD…

All those recordings, much of it completely unplayable now because no one makes the equipment to play them on any more. Got home movies on VHS? How about Super 8?

I think it will be easier from now on to preserve digital recordings. Bits are bits and if the file exists some geek will be able to figure out how to play it back.

But all that physical media? Its days are numbered.

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2 Responses to Voices from the past – 120 years

  1. bluesun says:

    Have you read “A Deepness in the Sky?” In it they have computer archeologists who go and sort through all the old code that has been built up over the eons to program whatever it is that they need. Intriguing idea.

  2. Kristopher says:

    Not always lost.

    We know little about ancient egypt, except for the stuff on temple and burial chamber walls. We have their buildings, but little data. Paper is a poor storage media.

    But we have gigabytes of data from ancient babylon. All baked into clay tablets. No mud-brick buildings … but all of their data.

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