My friend is a musician and they can't play digital files of recording sessions from a decade ago.
When I was producing stuff for Capitol Records in the early 1990's, we played tapes that were 40 years old without any problems.
Digital is far from a magic word!
True indeed. Not that long ago, RCA/BMG decided to reissue several "Living Stereo" albums from the mid-50s. The original tapes, complete with editing splices, were still readable.
Also consider this from Clifford Stoll back in 1994: "In 1979, as NASA's Pioneer spacecraft flew by Saturn, I helped record the down-linked data onto magnetic tape. To make certain that we didn't lose any of this priceless data, we saved it in four formats: 9-track magnetic tape, 7-track tape, paper tape and punch cards. Fifteen years later, all those cards and tapes survive in a Tucson warehouse, guarded by iguanas and scorpions. They're in fine shape, but I can't read 'em. Punch-card and paper-tape readers don't exist anymore. Neither do those big reel-to-reel tape recorders."
After listing a bunch of extinct and fading formats (and the fadings are all gone now, plus several then in their heyday -- 1.44MB floppies and zip disks, anyone?), he asks, "Will my backup tape from last night be readable in a hundred years? I doubt it." Since he was talking tape, it might not be readable now -- less than 20 years later -- let alone 100 years!
Edited by Rick Thompson, May 13 2013 - 05:48 AM.