Preserving the Sound Archive

Preserving the Sound Archive

An interview with Julia Weaver, BBC Sound Archivist

Julia Weaver, who preserves sound recordings for the BBC, tells us about everything from wax cylinders to digital files.

Transcript

Tape

Following on from vinyl came quarter-inch tape, which looks like this, played reel to reel on a deck. Because it was tape that you could physically handle, you could edit it more easily so you could take a piece out and join it back together and it was quite a quick and efficient way of working for the programme makers at that time. This has been used really up until 2000. With digital tapeless production now, we're not actually recording onto this any more. In the 1980s quarter-inch disc was then replaced by a CD. This was recordable, you could put it into a computer, it was read by a laser, which recorded straight onto the CD. This is now becoming obsolete as well - surprisingly, it's only 20 years old, though.

Around the same time as the CD was developed the DAT tape was also developed, which is a digital mastering format, and it was hailed as the new format, if you like, from about 1982 to about 1992. We're currently transferring around about 25,000 DATs over the next three years across to computer files. The biggest problem has been the fact that the DAT player machine is no longer available. So, obviously, we need to get these transferred as soon as possible.


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