Time & Space
NASA can’t find the computer tapes from the Apollo moon missions. And if it does find them, will they be readable?
The matter of long-term archiving of digitally recorded material — text, images, video, sound — is a challenge which I am not satisfied has yet really been solved. “Just burn it to DVD” doesn’t cut it for me, as there is the contentious matter of ‘DVD rot’.
In fact I’ll argue that in many respects, the humble book, the humble film and the humble analogue record still constitute our best effort for longevity.
A 6×6 cm negative, correctly exposed and processed, can store approximately 98 megapixels of photographic information. Assuming 24-bit colour, a back-of-napkin calculation renders an uncompressed file size of […]
- 98000000 * 24 = 2352000000 (98 megapixels x 24 bits)
- 2352000000 / 8 = 294000000 (bits / 8 = bytes)
- 294000000 / 1024 = 287109.375 (bytes / 1024 = megabytes)
- 287109.375 / 1024 = 280.38024902344 (megabytes / 1024 = Gigabytes)
So the humble 6×6 negative can store the photographic equivalent of a fairly substantial hard drive.
And I’ve got films in my family archive in excess of 70 years of age. Whether a hard drive can last that long through thick and thin remains to be seen.