The precarious state of classic software and hardware preservation

Chuck Guzis cclist at
Tue Nov 23 12:21:33 CST 2021

On 11/23/21 9:51 AM, Bill Gunshannon via cctalk wrote:
 doubt that a single line of that survives.
> You would probably be wrong, it likely was archived before
> it stopped being used.  But that won't do you any good as
> even if you could submit a FOIA request for it the cost of
> recovering it would be prohibitive and they would not have
> to honor it.  :-)

I don't think so--the project I had in mind was a military project that
sunset some time in the late 1970s.   Defense projects generally had a
fixed budget that did not include archiving after the project had
completed.   That even extended to defense contractors.  I recall a job
I did for LMSC where one person still had some 8" Future Data floppies
with software for a particular product.  The set wasn't complete--but
there were no official company archives of the stuff.   It wasn't just
the US Defense industry either; I've done similar stuff for, say, the

I think that, in the military mind, software belonging to a discontinued
classified project was deemed a potential security risk and destroyed.

A lot of my work involved retrieving stuff that had been put on tapes
years ago and just stashed in a warehouse with no description, other
than a tape inventory number.   Someone got the job of cleaning out the
warehouse and thought the tapes might be worth looking at.

Just think of all of the stuff that hits the landfill from old timers
who have passed.  The inheritors don't know what to do with the stuff
other than dispose of it.

We're very bad at hanging onto old information.


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