Digitized 78rpm records now on Internet Archive

This is another reason why the Internet Archive is just incredible. The Great 78 Project is a collection of old recordings that pre-date LPs and it’s amazing:

The Great 78 Project is a community project for the preservation, research and discovery of 78rpm records. From about 1898 to the 1950s, an estimated 3 million sides (~3 minute recordings) have been made on 78rpm discs. While the commercially viable recordings will have been restored or remastered onto LP’s or CD, there is still research value in the artifacts and usage evidence in the often rare 78rpm discs and recordings. Already, over 20 collections have been selected by the Internet Archive for physical and digital preservation and access. Started by many volunteer collectors, these new collections have been selected, digitized and preserved by the Internet Archive, George Blood LP, and the Archive of Contemporary Music.

Here is one example that I noticed on the front page of the collection. It’s “La Vie En Rose” by Edith Piaf; Louiguy; Edith Piaf Chansons Parisiennes; Guy Luypaerts:

If you love old music then you will enjoy this collection. You can follow the project on Twitter if you are interested in new additions:

Source: 78rpm Records Digitized by George Blood, L.P. : Free Audio : Download & Streaming : Internet Archive

Image credit: Mink Mingle

Policy issues Useful stuff

When Google gave up, the Internet Archive kept going

I believe really strongly in the need to preserve our digital heritage as part of our collective cultural archive. Andy Baio published a wonderful article in The Message about how the Internet Archive has been quietly doing just that since before Google published it’s intention to “organize the world’s information”:

The Internet Archive is mostly known for archiving the web, a task the San Francisco-based nonprofit has tirelessly done since 1996, two years before Google was founded.

Not only does the Internet Archive maintain a vast library of web pages, texts, music, videos and images. It also maintains a growing library of old software. It not only has the biggest archive of old software in the world but this software is actually usable thanks to a variety of emulators.

Doesn’t this just send you down memory lane to the graphics that inspired Minecraft.

One of the coolest aspects of this is the huge collection of old MS-DOS games. This may not mean much to you if you were born after, say, 1995 (give or take) but I recognise many of the games I used to play when my family’s PC couldn’t hold a flame to my aging iPhone 5.

Baio’s article recounts the history of the Internet Archive’s growing collection of old software. When you consider how quickly apps and file formats become obsolete in the rush to innovate, it isn’t difficult to see why this archive is so important.

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It isn’t just about preserving old games for the sake of nostalgia, it is about preserving our thoughts, ideas and culture in a form that we can still access meaningfully years or decades after they were relegated to the global technological landfill.

This is also one of the reasons I remain a big believer in software such as LibreOffice. Even now, it maintains compatibility with old file formats such as WordPerfect and Quattro Pro. You’ll be lucky if Microsoft Office or Apple’s iWork can read office file formats more than a few years old.

There are times when I think a career as an archivist or librarian would have been interesting when faced with the prospect of finding ways to preserve our digital heritage for future generations.

I was excited when Google took it on itself to start archiving the world’s information. It is a monumental endeavour and not without risks. Google was embroiled in litigation for years because it started scanning books. It has done amazing work and continues to do so.

Google is preserving our heritage in gigapixels

Google Arts & Culture contains an invaluable collection of the world’s art. I don’t think you can overstate the value of having this resource available from virtually any web browser.

With all that Google has done for us, the Internet Archive has arguably done as much, probably even more. Take some time to visit and explore this tremendous resource.

Image credit: Pixabay