Frank Gregorsky, who is in the business of recording family anecdotes, has asked me to make a modification to my article on Preserving the Sounds of Family and I’m happy to do so.  His request was in response  to my comment, …when CD-ROM technology becomes obsolete (and this could happen soon), the technological advances of tomorrow are likely to produce even more miraculous results.

The following  points are well-taken and certainly in keeping with the intent of this blog:

” Point 1: All digital discs — video, audio and computer — are the same size and will fit in the disc “bay” of any computer built in the past 20 years. If you buy a CD today at Best Buy, you can play it in a living-room CD player built 25 years ago; and you can play that same CD in a VIDEO player you would buy tomorrow (as long as you can brave the stampede).

There is a VAST level of compatibility and uniformity to the “disc” that we have come to take for granted from the mid-1980s on. For one of these formats — disc-types — to disappear, they will all have to disappear.

Point 2:  Media hardly ever disappears. We still have AM and FM — these broadcast technologies have been the same since 1940. Cassette tapes are still used by thousands of school systems (see and — believe it or not — J&R Audio in NYC has 5,000 new musical releases — not the Beatles or Louis Armstrong, but present-day artists — available on 33 rpm vinyl! Turntables are easy to buy today, and not just at yard sales. ”


My original article.

When families get together to celebrate a birthday, or a holiday, or just to chat, they usually take photographs. With the amazingly low cost technology around today a lot of people own video cameras, digital cameras, or both and use them to capture memories.

We are all, either by happenstance or by conscious effort, family genealogists and it’s always good to remind one’s self that these events should be recorded for posterity, whether it’s a humorous pie in the face moment, or a discussion with an older member of the clan.

Using videos for family history anecdotal records can be intimidating, especially for the older generation, and often results in a loss of spontaneity. Audio recordings might be a more effective way to capture uninhibited conversations with people who freeze or become self-conscious if they think they’re going to be recorded on video.

A few months ago, I found a tape recording of a family reunion with two old aunts in Scotland. It was made by the Australian branch of my family during a visit to the old country, and I wished to be able to  listen in just one more time. Thanks to a thoughtful friend, my wish was granted.

I didn’t know it was possible take such an old cassette tape and have it digitally encoded and transferred to CD-ROM. It’s even possible to restore the sound to almost original quality and the hissing noise, made by the mechanisms in the old recorders, can actually be eliminated.

My tape was about twenty-five years old and it was probably the result of an accidental preservation process that it remained intact. If you have any tapes that you’d like to preserve,  you might want to try the sound transfer process. Even when CD-ROM technology becomes obsolete (and this could happen soon), the technological advances of tomorrow are likely to produce even more miraculous results.

The CD-ROM transfer I received was a gift, but I’ve done some research online and found several businesses offering sound transfers. I can’t recommend any one service over another, because I haven’t used them myself, but there are plenty of vendors offering reasonable prices on the web. If I decide to use a local service, at least I’ll have an understanding of how the process works before I enter the store.

A couple of days ago I found a written account by Nicole Trifone on the Family Patch web site of an interview with a very innovative Frank Gregorsky, who makes a business of recording family anecdotes. Click on the link below to read the interview.

3 Comments on Modification to my post “Preserving the sounds of family”

  1. Andy P. says:

    I’m inclined to agree with your original comment Sandy A. It would take too long to explain why. This is the first time I’ve read your original article and I would guess your comment is based on your own experience.

  2. Sandy — Thanks for the tack-on, and of course for the original link to the story in You run a great blog.

    “Obsolete” is a loaded word, and the “gun” goes off in conflicting directions. Many people hear “obsolete” and think “no longer in use.” That is in fact one definition, word for word (from Merriam-Webster’s 2004).

    So — when will “no longer” happen? Even if 90% of CDs are gone 10 years from now, the signal will still be the basic dot-wav or mp3 digital formatting — which is why people copy their CD collections to iPods; in other words, all the “information” is preserved.

    The synonyms for “obsolete” are “extinct, outworn, superseded, passe.” When it comes to DVD and CD technology, I could see “passe” being valid in another few years. But “extinct”? Never. I mentioned AM and FM’s durability. Millions of people still use records and cassettes today, and you can walk into CVS or Target and buy a tape player made by Craig or Memorex. Office Depot and Staples sell blank tape — etc. etc.

    The media companies play a different game. In so many words, it’s: Throw your gear away and give us more money.

    But I expect 10 million of us, minimum, to still be using DVDs and CDs in 2025. And anyone who doesn’t want to keep them can easily store the information on “thick” hard drives as well as “thin” portable devices…

    The tech companies position themselves as saviors, and for those of us who were weaned on electric typewriters and musty library “stacks,” creating and pooling info is better done as a set of digital functions. No question about that from me.

    But, for those under-30s who gaze at tiny screen and can only convey in Twitter-like length, today’s proliferation of hair-trigger devices is inimical to learning how to think, write and organize. I’m not the first one to say this, but it’s a profound case, made by various authors, and sometimes by the very age brackets supposedly 50 feet down in the Tech tank.

    My webmaster is 29, refuses to carry an iPod, works on Capitol Hill, and has 300 books in his apartment. (His degree is in Computer Science!) The 26-yr-old who wrote the Patch story is in a book club with nine other young females. Book club? Yep, they get together monthly to discuss a specific history book. Mostly, they are teachers, she says. Sign of hopes for any of us who put the content, and the concentration time, way ahead of smallness and quickness via a fragile device in one’s hand.

    A lot of the techno-hype and digital determinism comes from my fellow fiftysomethings — who oughta know better.

    Anyway, I’m not one for web debates, and felt strange posting this item. So, keep up the great work. I will link to your site next time I update mine.

  3. Sandy Arnone says:

    Thanks for the clarification which I failed to clearly represent. I’ve learned a great deal from your comment and chances are good that others will too.

    Best regards,
    Sandy Arnone.

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