life time of magnetic data

From: John Conover <>
Subject: life time of magnetic data
Date: Wed, 28 Dec 94 02:29 PST

Here is something to think about.

The ancient Sumerians of Mesopotamia used pictographs inscribed with
triangular sticks (Cuneiform) in wet clay tablets to record the
specifics of grain production for the society. The clay tablets were
aligned in an orthogonal (relational) system, by year, and by
farmer-eg., it was a relational data base system with tuples (records)
of years, and fields containing the amount of grain produced by
specific farmers. For example, anthropologist have dug up a "cache" of
these tablets (near Bagdad,) and we know that 3004 BC was a good year
for barley by looking at the records of the administration of beer
brewing. (You have to admire these clever folks; invented civilization
and cities, and then decided to make beer-a lot of beer. Perhaps it is
not coincidental.)

We are storing most of our social administration agenda on magnetic
media. How long will the data last? I wonder if the records of the
administration of our society will be available to anthropologists
5000 years from now?



John Conover,,

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