Premium Content

Access "Saving Media from Extinction"

Published: 16 Oct 2012

What do whales and digitizing analog broadcast tapes have in common? A lot more than you'd think, explains Robert Robinson, head librarian for National Public Radio in Washington, D.C. Robinson, who's heading up efforts to digitize some 120,000 reel-to-reel tapes dating back to the 1960s, says that tapes made prior to the mid-1970s were coated with whale oil. But in 1972, Congress passed the Marine Mammal Protection Act, forcing tape manufacturers to switch to polyurethane. Polyurethane, though, is no substitute for refined blubber, as it absorbs humidity. When you play the tape, the polyurethane builds up on the head and jams the drive mechanism. The result? "Tapes from the 60s and early 70s have held up pretty well," says Robinson, but later tapes are essentially unusable. Luckily, reel-to-reel tapes can be salvaged by baking them for eight hours at 125 degrees, and then converted to digital format in the next 30 days. So far, NPR has performed this rescue operation on tapes dating back to 1989. It is currently capturing them at full fidelity, saving them ... Access >>>

Access TechTarget
Premium Content for Free.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

What's Inside

Features

More Premium Content Accessible For Free

  • Big data storage challenges: Speed, capacity and HDFS integration
    big_data_hadoop.png
    E-Handbook

    Big data infrastructure and analytics are some of the hottest technology topics today, and it can sometimes seem impossible to dissect and digest all...

  • Moving target: Endpoint backup
    storage_0814.jpg
    E-Zine

    Mobile workers are now accessing, creating and modifying data on ultra-portable devices such as smartphones, tablets and phablets. Most companies ...

  • A lesson in flash caching
    storage_0714.png
    E-Zine

    Solid-state storage is proliferating as a replacement for hard disk drives, where it offers a quick shift into the fast lane of storage processing. ...