The precarious state of classic software and hardware preservation

s shumaker shumaker at
Tue Nov 23 20:06:33 CST 2021

In fact, it's standard language in most DOD contracts that ALL materials 
related to a contract must be destroyed at contract closure unless the 
contractor receives specific permission from the gov't  to retain it - 
usually for some specific reason such as a projected follow-on 
contract.  When major contracts close, there is often a great cleaning 
out of file cabinet and storage areas, done as quickly as possible 
because it's all on company time rather than paid by uncle.


On 11/23/2021 10:21 AM, Chuck Guzis via cctalk wrote:
> 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
> Israelis.
> 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.
> --Chuck

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