Future of CDROM, DVD, etc.

Jones, Brian Dr bjones at AGRIC.WA.GOV.AU
Thu Apr 27 08:51:00 CDT 2000

In 1993 I tried to have a box of IBM punch cards read.  Standard technology
in the 1960's when magnetic tape wasn't seen as all that permanent.  There
was one machine left in New Zealand which still worked. The problem was
spare parts, not access to machines. 

Likewise I have a stack of 78 records - permanent as media can be - but no
turntable which rotates that fast. Who has beta format video players now?
Junk shops are full of Commodore 64's with their funny format cassette-tape
drives. Back when they were popular, Bill Gates was unheard of.  

We cannot guarantee that technology will continue to support CD's cut in the
1990's, and they are illegible unless they can be machine read.  The beauty
of the book  is that it can be deciphered with a little education and
nothing else (well - I need lenses!).  I can fast-forward, rewind, or
'freeze-frame' to my hearts content and it will be available and readable
100 years from now.

Dr Brian Jones
Senior  Fish Pathologist, Fisheries WA
phone +61-8-9368-3649 fax +61-8-9474-1881

> ----------
> From:         christian thompson[SMTP:cthompson at SEL.BARC.USDA.GOV]
> Reply To:     christian thompson
> Sent:         Thursday, 27 April 2000 3:08
> Subject:      Future of CDROM, DVD, etc.
> Yes, there has been a constant evolution (revolution)) in digital archive
> media: from 9-track tape to the current CDROM. But there are a few factors
> which most don't know about or appreciate. Despite the evolution from 8 to
> 5 to 3 inch disks, etc., many organization, such as US Government, were
> conservative in ARCHIVE medium and did not endorse the intermediate
> formats. So, while these various disk sizes were common, archive data was
> still put on 9-track tape. 
> But CD-ROM has been accepted as a true archive medium as it has a long
> shelf live (it does not lose its digital message over time like tape and
> magnetic disks do, etc.). But most importantly, the new formats are in
> essentially backward compatable.  A DVD disk is the same physical size,
> etc., it only has more "tracks" and more "points" to be read. That is, the
> laser read/write head is of smaller size and more tightly controlled.  So,
> the ability to read a more "primitive" disk, such as CDROM, is merely a
> software problem, that is, writing the appropriate driver.  Obviously, a
> smaller laser read head can always be programmed to recognize a large
> point, etc.  So, what is driving the technology is smaller read/write
> lasers, not changes in the physcial size of the medium.  This means that
> with the appropriate software, one can read the older formats, such as
> CDROM in a DVD player, etc. And then when you consider that IBM has
> already announced a new format that uses a read/write in the two or three
> micron range so that hundreds of gigabytes of data can be stored on a
> single CDROM disk, one realizes that the 4 ½ inch CDROM disk size will
> have a long archive life, much longer than ours.
> So, I don't worry about the life of a "CDROM" disk format.  This year we
> will write the Diptera Data Dissemination Disk again in ISSO 9660 format,
> maybe next year it will be a DVD format, but it will be the same disk in
> the same plastic Jewel box, etc..  But I am sure that libraries at least
> will alway have machines which will be able to read the earlier (primitve)
> formats when CDs are no longer popular, etc.
> F. Christian Thompson
> Systematic Entomology Lab., USDA
> Smithsonian Institution
> Washington, D. C. 20560
> (202) 382-1800 voice
> (202) 786-9422 FAX
> cthompso at sel.barc.usda.gov

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