The Verge: The Internet Archive’s VHS Vault will send you on a 90s nostalgia trip. “The Internet Archive, perhaps best known for the extremely handy Wayback Machine you can use to find older versions of webpages, also has free movies, books, software, and music. Yet a little known part of the organization’s media trove includes uploaded recordings from VHS tapes, as I learned today thanks to this Vice article. They live on The VHS Vault, and as of this writing, there are more than 20,000 recordings you can peruse.”
Houston Chronicle: Race against time: Saving Texas’ film memories. “As the years play on, the decay of aging motion picture film accelerates, as does the quality of magnetic tape on which video is recorded. Video projectors and old-format tape machines break, are not repaired and discarded. The race to get these recordings into a digital format – also unlikely to survive forever – becomes more crucial with each passing year.”
American Archive of Public Broadcasting: KMUW and the American Archive of Public Broadcasting to Preserve Historic Public Television and Radio Programs from Across Kansas. “KMUW 89.1 – FM and The American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB) announced today a collaborative effort to preserve and make accessible historic television and radio programs produced by Kansas public media stations. The resulting online collection, to be digitized from deteriorating and obsolete formats, will showcase statewide coverage of social issues, commentary, public reporting and history from more than 60 years of Kansas public media archival collections.”
Ubergizmo: This Film From 1896 Was Upscaled To 4K Using AI. “You know those police drama shows where they zoom in on a photo or video, and magically it becomes sharper and clearer instead of more pixelated? It looks like that technology is slowly becoming a reality, and more recently it has been demonstrated in a film that was shot back in 1896 that was upscaled to 4K using AI.” The video is included in the article. It is MINDBENDING.
SF Gate: Rare photo archive donation shows glory of Yosemite National Park in 1903. “The slides arrived in what looked to be a handmade wooden box labeled, “Yosemite 1903.” Inside lay a total of 120 slides depicting life in Yosemite National Park in the early 1900s at iconic locations like Half Dome, Nevada Falls and El Capitan. Yosemite had become only the third national park in the United States just 13 years before, and a man by the name of Charles F. Oehler set about taking photos of the park, which were passed on through the generations of Oehler’s family and donated by his great-grandson.” The slides are in the process of being digitized and put online.
The Bottom Line: Dusting Off The UCSB Cylinder Audio Archives. “Tucked away on the third floor mountain side of the library is the Cylinder Audio Archive, a carefully curated collection of over 19,000 historic phonograph cylinders. Invented by Thomas Edison in the late 1800s — long before CDs, cassette tapes, and vinyl records — phonograph cylinders are the earliest commercial recording medium. These hollow cylindrical objects are roughly the size of a soda can and function similarly to vinyl records, with audio engraved as grooves that can be played by a needle.”
New York Times: Wanted: A Home for Three Million Records. “Housed in a nondescript building in TriBeCa is the Archive of Contemporary Music, a nonprofit founded in 1985. It is one of the world’s largest collections of popular music, with more than three million recordings, as well as music books, vintage memorabilia and press kits. For point of comparison, the Library of Congress estimates that it also holds nearly three million sound recordings…. Rent in the neighborhood has continued to rise, challenging the organization to stay on budget, said Bob George, the founder and director of the archive. Recently, Mr. George reached an agreement with his landlord to get out of his lease early. He has until June to find another space.”
New York Times: Get Those Records, Tapes and CDs Onto Your Smartphone. “In addition to making files that play on your smartphone or media server, digitizing your analog audio creates an electronic archive you can store online for safekeeping. The steps for converting your old recordings vary on the formats and equipment you have, but here’s a general outline of the process and the equipment you may need.”
NBC 7 San Diego: NBC 7 San Diego History Center Partner to Preserve Decades of Archives. “The archive, to be held at the San Diego History Center’s Research Archives, consists of video recordings, video tapes, and assorted materials that document the daily journalism of San Diego from the period of 1976 to 2012. Contained in the archives are thousands of interviews and individual stories. The archived materials will be made accessible to the public once inventory and a catalogue have been completed. Due to the size of the archive this may take several years.”
The Verge: A small Wisconsin company stored thousands of people’s CDs, then suddenly vanished. “Last month, almost a million CDs stored in Wisconsin seemed to disappear. For years, thousands of people paid a Madison-based company, named Murfie, to rip, stream, and store their CDs, vinyl, and cassettes. But a few weeks ago, Murfie’s website went offline and nearly all communication from the company ceased. Now, customers fear their physical music collections may be lost forever.”
Texas State Library and Archives Commission: From “Unplayable” to Searchable Online: the House Recordings Recovery Project. “In 2007, Texas House of Representatives’ Media Services transferred to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) about 350 reels of audiotape. Most of the recordings dated between 1975 and 1984 and covered the House floor debates from the entire 63rd through 68th Legislative sessions. Many House committee recordings were included as well. At the time the tapes were transferred to TSLAC, the majority of the reels were described by House media staff as ‘unplayable.’ Having been marked as damaged and unplayable, the audiotapes were stored in TSLAC’s climate-controlled stacks awaiting deaccessioning.” A new resource and a discussion about restoring endangered media!
Digital Preservation Coalition: Starting with complexity: Archiving digital-born music compositions from Mac systems of the 80s/90s. “About ten years ago, a music archive took over the private archive of a composer who had already begun composing with digital techniques in the 1980s. The result is impressive: the composer transferred his work on not less than 700 data carriers to the archive, including 660 floppy discs, 26 SyQuest carriers and a few carriers from the families of Iomega Jaz, Iomega Zip, CD-ROM and Harddisk. The composer has used Apple systems and proprietary special software (music notation and sequencing software) in his work.”
Portland Mercury: Portland’s King of LaserDiscs Reflects on an Old but Beloved Technology. “…so much as anyone in America can be the king of anything, Chuck Legg is the king of LaserDiscs. In his suburban Tigard home, cardboard boxes full of them cover every horizontal surface that can bear the weight. They’re in the foyer and the hallways and on the stairs. There are boxes of LaserDiscs on the washer and dryer in the small laundry room, which leads to the big, two-car garage where the heart of his collection resides. Unremarkable from the outside, its interior is a maze of floor-to-ceiling shelves, each overflowing with discs organized by theme, franchise, or whim”
Internet Archive: How the Internet Archive is Digitizing LPs to Preserve Generations of Audio. “Since all of the information on an LP is printed, the digitization process must begin by cataloging data. High-resolution scans are taken of the cover art, the disc itself and any inserts or accompanying materials. The record label, year recorded, track list and other metadata are supplemented and cross-checked against various external databases.”
Pitchfork: Worldwide Material Shortage Delays Cassette Tape Production. “While the cassette resurgence has not matched the vinyl boom, tape sales are on the rise, growing 23% in 2018. This has led to a period of immense productivity for National Audio Company, the largest audio cassette tape manufacturer in the United States. Production is being threatened, however, by a worldwide shortage of gamma ferric oxide, the most common material used for magnetic recording.”