We recently got an email from the Environmental Design Library at UC Berkeley asking for our help. They had come across a CD-ROM we produced twenty years ago and wanted to use it on a system it wasn’t designed for (post Windows 2000!). Needless to say, the old quickstart instructions weren’t exactly useful anymore:
The CD-ROM was one of our earliest projects. We collaborated with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation archives and Oxford University Press to digitize 4x5” transparencies and produce CD-ROMs. CD-ROMs were common back in 1993, and you can still buy them today (in fact I found “Frank Lloyd Wright: Presentation and Conceptual Drawings” on Amazon!); digitizing transparencies was not.
We did good work and the CD-ROMs were a hit. But I sure didn’t expect to be helping people use them 20 years on. So after we got the email we got creative and figured out how these customers of ours from long ago could enjoy the images once again.
It’s deeply gratifying to realize the work we did 20 years ago still has value. Technology has changed, but our love for this work and the need to preserve valuable resources hasn’t. We’ve come a long way from dark, offline, archives published on CD-ROMS. The LUNA software we produce now lives in the cloud and pretty much assures this kind of obsolescence doesn’t happen anymore.