The LP Is 65 Years Old

By Henry Newman

There was a great article on changes in music recording technology in The Register by Chris Mellor. The LP is now 65 years old—only about 11 years older than me, which is pretty scary for me.

Anyway, LPs are few and far between now, with even CDs going the way of the dodo bird in favor of digital music.

That got me thinking again about the longevity of all interfaces. The needles used for the LPs are not much different than any interface.

When I first started, interfaces to disk drives where built by the vendor. There was not much of a standard, and the same was true for tape. Fast forward 30+ years, and we have standard interfaces today. SAS, SATA and fibre channel (clearly this is on the way out for disk interfaces except for tape). Most RAID controller interfaces are SAS or fibre channel, and some tape drives support SAS.

Most people do not keep old disk drives around because they are not cost effective to run given the cost of support along with other reasons like power and cooling. But tapes are a different story—at least in open systems.

On the IBM mainframe, the standard is FICON. Generation after generation, it works and is supported for the right amount of $$. Open systems, go try and find a support FC 1 Gb, or 2 Gb and soon even 4 Gb interface that is officially supported.

Now you might correctly state that things are backward-compatible, and you would be correct. But in the world of archive, in my opinion, that is not good enough. You need to have real support.

I remember long ago when I had a cassettes in my car that I would take my LPs and copy them so I could listen to music in the car. But that was copies, not migration in the real sense, as I was losing resolution.

Long term, we need to have open systems behave not like LPs over the last 65 years but more like IBM mainframes to reduce the cost of migration to new media for large archives. Or maybe we need to move to IBM mainframes for large archives. A thought.

This article was originally published on May 31, 2013