In the course of my long term data storage research, I've run across some very neat storage solutions. While none of them meet my needs exactly, I've found all of the things listed below to be very inspirational in my quest to find or create a simple long term data storage solution.
Let's take a look at some of my favorites!Clay tablets
. The oldest known Clay tablets
are over 6,000 years old. The Epic of Gilgamesh was written on clay tablets, the earliest versions of the epic date from 2150-2000 BCE
. In the late 1950's IBM developed a few "Photostore
" machines that would store data on photographs. Data was stored on "chips" like the one pictured above. Each chip was approximately 2.75 x 1.38 inches and could store about a half a megabyte of data. Golden records
. Probably the most famous of all golden records is the one that was launched into space as part of the Voyager spacecraft
. It had controversial cartoon depictions of naked humans, and some great music
. Stainless steel tablets
. When Scientologists return to earth from the distant future, Trementina Base
will be there for them. Trementina houses the complete collection of L. Ron Hubbard's creative output, engraved on stainless steel tablets, stored in titanium capsules. Salt mines
. Naturally temperature and humidity stable, salt mines are perfect places to archive film and paper
As I search for a simple long term storage solution, it has really helped to remember these methods of storage. I want to build on the past as much as possible. These solutions have also been extremely inspirational: The clay tablets for their longevity, the Voyager Golden Record for it's carefully selected contents, Trementina Base for its long term thinking, and the salt mines because they are a simple, elegant and non-obvious way to store human artifacts for very long periods of time.
But the most inspirational of all the things I've listed here is the IBM 1360 - the "Photostore". Much of my thinking regarding archiving data to paper has been inspired or influenced by the little know about this system. It does a lot of things that just make a lot of sense to me: "write once, read many", storage of data on non-electronic, non-magnetic, almost inert media, the ability to remove media from a running system for long term storage, the ability for a running system to request the re-insertion of media that is in long term storage.
As I look for ways to help people store data for long periods of time with little or no effort, it has been very encouraging to find similar things others have done in the past. I can't help but wonder what other technologies exist, hiding in the whispers of the past, that can help me find a solution.