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Re: Titanosaurs from Malawi

At 10:14 AM +0100 5/23/05, Mike Taylor wrote:

>The key insight here is that, unlike hardware, the software to read
>various file formats does not decay over time.  It may now be
>increasingly difficult to read punch-cards, paper tapes, mag-tapes and
>5+1/4" floppies, and no doubt the day will come when it's hard to read
>CDs; 3+1/2" floppies are already under threat.  But electronic files
>live forever thanks to the wonder of 100% accurate copying -- not only
>of the files themselves, but also of the software that reads them.

Actually, obsolete commercial software is a serious problem. Even if you can 
get a digital copy, it may not run on any computer available. In theory, you 
might be able to write an emulator so you could read a document, but that won't 
be done for everything. PDF files and Word documents won't likely be a problem, 
but old word processors already area  problem. I don't think any commercially 
available software that runs on a state-of-the-art Macintosh today will read or 
translate files saved in the MacWrite format that was the de-facto standard for 
Maintosh word processing for many years. -- Jeff Hecht