Digital Obsolescence

In the weekly column What Bugs Me, the Post lets a few readers expound on anything that fits the title.

This week one particular reader complained about being “bugged by new technology that makes my old stuff obsolete”. Specifically, all the information he has stored in abandoned formats.

It got me thinking of all the storage formats we’ve been through just with computers – tape cassettes, 5-1/4 floppies, 3-1/2 floppies, Zip disks, and now USB drives.

Then there’s the many analog and digital formats for media: vinyl records, Beta video, 8-track tapes, Blu-Ray disks, and more.

I’d bet if you wandered through any of our older schools, you could find examples of just about every form of media used in the last fifty years (film strips, anyone?).

There’s at least one box of floppy disks still in use.

Ultimately, however, I wonder how much of the estimated 40 exabytes of data in the world is stored in a format that will soon be inaccessible.

data, obsolete formats