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Data Storage Technology

New DVDs For 1,000-Year Digital Storage 274

Posted by kdawson
from the you-must-remember-this dept.
anonymous cowpie sends word of a Utah startup that is about to introduce technology for writing DVDs that can be read for 1,000 years after being stored at room temperature. (Ordinary DVDs last anywhere from 3 to 12 years, on average.) The company, Millenniata, is said to be in the final stages of negotiation with Phillips over patent licensing and plans to begin manufacture in September. 1,000-year "M-ARC Discs" are expected to retail for $25-$30 at first, with the price coming down with volume. "Dubbed the Millennial Disk, it looks virtually identical to a regular DVD, but it's special. Layers of hard, 'persistent' materials (the exact composition is a trade secret) are laid down on a plastic carrier, and digital information is literally carved in with an enhanced laser using the company's Millennial Writer, a sort of beefed-up DVD burner. Once cut, the disk can be read by an ordinary DVD reader on your computer."
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New DVDs For 1,000-Year Digital Storage

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  • Posting.... (Score:4, Funny)

    by c00rdb (945666) on Friday July 17, 2009 @07:54AM (#28728335)
    Posting to prevent accidental mod.
  • by NervousNerd (1190935) on Friday July 17, 2009 @07:54AM (#28728339) Journal
    How do we KNOW that they'll REALLY last 1,000 years?
  • by A. B3ttik (1344591) on Friday July 17, 2009 @07:55AM (#28728343)

    Dubbed the Millennial Disk, it looks virtually identical to a regular DVD, but it's special.

    These new non-degradable disks are larger, black, and made out of vinyl.

    • by Rogerborg (306625) on Friday July 17, 2009 @08:33AM (#28728793) Homepage
      +1 for Interracial Chubby Bondage reference.
      • by u38cg (607297)
        Mod -1, Made Me Need New Keyboard And Look Like A Fool In Front Of Office.
    • by tgatliff (311583)

      At least the vinyl was analog "encoded" to make it easy for future people to figure out. With our zero lead electronics of today, you might get 20 years from the device and then they are left trying to figure it the encoding pattern.... I would hope it would not be an issue, but if Al Gore's world happens I am guessing we will be an idiocracy based world by then...

  • players? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 17, 2009 @07:57AM (#28728365)

    As if DVD players will be around for 1000 years?

    • by jabjoe (1042100)
      We can't predict how they will read them, only try and help them do so.
      If the shit hits the fan, they might have to rebuild a primitive dvd reader to read our old data to help them rebuild more of our technology. Or maybe in their towers of crystal they'll use some kind of insanely powerful, multispectrum digital camera and extract the data from the image. Or maybe their genetically enhanced eyes and minds do it all for them in their subconscious, so they don't even see the disc, just the data. We can't kn
    • Re:players? (Score:4, Informative)

      by RDW (41497) on Friday July 17, 2009 @08:42AM (#28728915)

      'As if DVD players will be around for 1000 years?'

      Or even 20 years:

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2002/mar/03/research.elearning [guardian.co.uk]

      The situation won't be as extreme as it was with this proprietary system, of course (the number of number of DVD readers in circulation is very large, and the software that interacts with them is well documented), but in the long run the only thing that really makes sense is to make multiple copies that are shifted to new storage media as they become available.

      • by poetmatt (793785)

        They will make their money, get a few suckers, and move on. Good business for an exec to cash out basically. Meanwhile, "proprietary" is usually another word for "We haven't patented it/probably won't unless we get enough suckers".

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by elrous0 (869638) *
      No problem. Store them in a vault with 10 plates of instructions for building a DVD player and 100 plates showing how to crack the various layers of annoying DRM that have been added by the Hollywood studios.
    • by Zackbass (457384)

      I'm always confused as to why people get hung on this point so often. Why would someone in 1000 years (barring some apocalyptic situation), or even 20 years need a specific player to read a DVD, floppy disk, hard disk, or anything? All of these can be examined with more generic laboratory inspection equipment now, why is it unrealistic that 10 years from now you might have an optical disk scanner that reads just about anything? Even the encoding that the disks use isn't very complicated, we crack much more

      • I'm always confused as to why people get hung on this point so often. Why would someone in 1000 years (barring some apocalyptic situation), or even 20 years need a specific player to read a DVD, floppy disk, hard disk, or anything? All of these can be examined with more generic laboratory inspection equipment now, why is it unrealistic that 10 years from now you might have an optical disk scanner that reads just about anything? Even the encoding that the disks use isn't very complicated, we crack much more difficult codes all the time.

        There is precedent. Hieroglyphs written 2000 years ago were undecipherable until the 1799 discovery of the Rosetta Stone and its subsequent study in the following decades. Reading technology was available the entire time (the paintings, writings and carvings were all visible to the unaided eye). Hieroglyphic writings weren't encrypted in any way -- other than being in a coding scheme (language) that fell out of use. The only real apocalypse that occurred over the ensuing eons was the cumulative effects

      • Have you got a video disk player?

        Can you play 78RPM records? Any vinyl records at all?

        I have several home movies on Super-8

        And My Dad's memoires are all on Amstrad's 3" floppies (not 3.5")

        Our last Philips Cassette player died last year - even they are very hard to find!

        20 years is not very long in family history terms. Stuff the requiremnts for corporate records and health-and-safety info on where the dangerous chemicals leaked.

  • Kodak 100 year data lifetime on its CD-R Ultima media?
    Sounds like someone put some effort into dvds too.
  • Carved in (Score:3, Funny)

    by The_mad_linguist (1019680) on Friday July 17, 2009 @08:04AM (#28728449)

    Thanks to the fact the data is literally "carved in", these discs are playable by a wide range of easily obtainable readers. Not only can you put them in a DVD player - in fact, it's possible simply to put a needle in the grooves of the disc, which gives detailed instructions on how to make a DVD player.

  • Disc Lifespan (Score:5, Informative)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Friday July 17, 2009 @08:08AM (#28728487) Journal

    (Ordinary DVDs last anywhere from 3 to 12 years, on average.)

    For those of you really concerned about optical media in your possession, check out NIST's "Care and Handling of CDs and DVDs - A Guide for Librarians and Archivists" [nist.gov] [1.24 MB PDF warning]. That guide is extremely thorough.

    While it is a longer span for pressed DVDs, I'm sure the RIAA/MPAA know that the media we purchase songs and movies on has a limited lifespan that may very well be shorter than the consumer's remaining years. And it kind of upsets me that creating backups for your own personal use of DVDs or CDs is illegal (although not typically prosecuted unless copyright infringement ensues). Personally, I rip all my CDs and some DVDs upon purchase and simply never use the disc again. It goes into storage and I create digital backups and hard copy backups of the discs. It's a bit pricier and not as instant as other ways of purchasing media but it ensures I'll always have it. When I purchased the latest Cloud Cult album, I bought the CDs and was able to download unencrypted MP3s immediately after purchase. When I purchased the vinyl record of She & Him, I was e-mailed a voucher to download the MP3s. I wish the big distributors would follow what the little guys are doing and offer you the whole package up front. Saves me a lot of work.

    • by tgd (2822)

      Backups of DVDs and CDs are not illegal, what gave you that idea?

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        It's illegal to make backups of media if you have to violate the DMCA to do it. Unfortunately, this applies to DVDs (but NOT Audio CDs.) And of course, this is USA-centric.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by tgd (2822)

          You don't have to violate the DMCA to copy a DVD. Just copy the files to a blank disk.

          CSS is about player licensing, not copy protection. (Which there are a lot of people that *still* don't get...)

          You can't play a DVD back on a player that isn't licensed by the DVD consortium. Thats what CSS prevents. (And thus, you can't format shift.)

          Making a backup works just fine, and is perfectly legal. In fact, you can make a backup to a harddrive and it'll work just fine as long as the program playing it on your comp

          • Are you sure? I was under the impression that typical DVD-R media is unwritable in the key area, which is why you can't copy a DVD bit-for-bit and have it play in a DVD player. I wasn't aware that a copy to a computer could be played back with licensed software. Then again, I decode before I rip, and I strip out all of the fluff before I rewrite the DVD to the server.

            As for the DMCA, if backups are considered a fair-use, then decryption for the purpose of backing up is legal because it is fair use. The DMC

      • by pbhj (607776)

        Any such copying is illegal in the UK , there is no "backup" exclusion for copyright. The only fair-use type objections are for news reporting, education and parody. It's also illegal to record a show off the TV for any reason other than time-shifting in the UK; if you watch it twice you broke the law!

        Yes, it's moronic. No, you're not likely to be prosecuted.

  • Sure. 1000 years. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Friday July 17, 2009 @08:10AM (#28728513) Journal
    And this assumes that in 1000 years there will be:

    1. a player to play the damn thing
    2. the resources to build a player to play the damn thing.
    3. a screen to view it on
    4. the resources to build a screen to view it on
    5. the cultural interest in such behaviour (sitting and watching a screen)
    6. the cultural capacity to decode and understand what the hell they're watching even if they do decide to watch it, assuming they have the ability to do so. For an extreme example, there is a non-zero probability that in 1000 years, the notion of "fiction" may well not exist, in which case an episode of "Friends" or "Seinfeld" become biographical portraits of stupid foolish people, as one needs to have the fictive distance to decode what is happening.
    7. that anyone will give a rat's ass about us in a 1000 years. They may well be pissing on our graves for having ruined the planet, and these disks may simply be destroyed as examples of the evil Evil EVIL petroleum age.
    8. Reverse engineering NTSC (SD or HD - just getting 29.97fps with rectangular pixels is fucked up enough) from a disc filled with microscopic pits strikes me as impossible and or pointless.

    I can list many more reasons why a 1000 year disk is a waste of time, those are just a few off the top of my head.

    Frankly, I think we are the civilisation that in 1000 years will be a great and tantalizing mystery. Their world will be filled with our garbage, telling them how we lived (like wasteful pigs at the trough) but they won't really know that much about what we think (because it was all digital and the technology disappeared in the die-off).

    RS

    • by MarkGriz (520778) on Friday July 17, 2009 @08:25AM (#28728701)

      And finally and most importantly, Congress would *never* consider extending the copyright term to 1000 years

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Don't give them any ideas.

    • Are you always this depressed?
    • by truesaer (135079)

      Yes, 1000 years from now the discs may not be terribly useful. But if there was some fantastic info on them my guess is that some creative person would be willing to build a system to read them.

      But really, lets put aside 1000 years. Lets just think of 100 years, or 200. DVDs now can't be relied upon to last 100 years, but I'm confident that if someone wanted to maintain an archive of info 100 years from now they would find a way to read the discs and put them on the latest generation archival material.

    • by MightyYar (622222) on Friday July 17, 2009 @08:31AM (#28728765)

      I can list many more reasons why a 1000 year disk is a waste of time

      I think you are missing the point.

      Let's say you are an engineer working for DiskCorp, and your boss tells you to develop a compound that will last for 100 years to sell to people worried about archival. In the persuit of 100-year life, you happen to come up with something that lasts 1000 years.

      Do you: (a) decide that you failed and go back to the drawing board, or (b) tell marketing they can run with the 1000-year life?

    • by Locklin (1074657) on Friday July 17, 2009 @08:33AM (#28728795) Homepage

      It's a psychological trick. No one will take their word for it that their disks last 1000 years. Instead, people will assume they are exaggerating, but anchor their estimate of the "real" lifetime of the disks to the 1000 year number (even though it's obviously fictitious). Half, a third, even a tenth of the advertised lifetime is still longer than a human lifetime -so people will buy it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Ihlosi (895663)

      1. a player to play the damn thing

      Just stick it in the molecular scanner. This is 1000 years into the future, isn't it?

      2. the resources to build a player to play the damn thing.

      3. a screen to view it on
      4. the resources to build a screen to view it on

      Oh, you want to full old-school experience? I'm sure you can replicate a player, then. Or incorporate the molecular scan from 1. in a holodeck program that simulates a player and a screen.

      5. the cultural interest in such behaviour (sitting and watching a scree

    • Re:Sure. 1000 years. (Score:5, Informative)

      by jeffb (2.718) (1189693) on Friday July 17, 2009 @08:47AM (#28729007)

      8. Reverse engineering NTSC (SD or HD - just getting 29.97fps with rectangular pixels is fucked up enough) from a disc filled with microscopic pits strikes me as impossible and or pointless.

      If Things Fall Apart, it'll be impossible and pointless, because people probably won't even be able to discern that there are pits. A DVD will just be another piece of godtrash, desirable because it makes pretty rainbows, but with only legends about its function.

      If This Goes On, it'll be trivial, whether or not players still exist. I'm pretty sure that with a consumer digicam, ImageJ, a simple audio package and some ambition, I could recover an Edison cylinder recording without any sort of physical "player"; doing the same for a vinyl disc would be a stretch at present, but probably not ten years from now. A physical artifact with gross topographic features (as opposed to subtle patterns of charge or spin) just won't be able to retain that much mystery. The software it represents can be a bit more mysterious, but I don't think the ability to analyze a digital video stream is likely to be lost unless we lose most everything else.

      Of course, if the RIAA and its minions come up with truly strong encryption and DRM, information could be lost irretrievably. But gods have always had demons to contend with.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by HertzaHaeon (1164143)

      We have archeologists who dig up the most mundane objects from more than 1000 years ago and make a big deal out of it. I'm sure the guy who wrote his diary on stone tablets back in the day didn't worry about us being interested in his day, or having a way to read it. And yet we do.

      As for your other predictions of the future, I'm sure they have about the same level of accuracy as that of a man living 1000 years ago.

      • yeah, I love archaelogical stuff.

        I just buried a dvd in my backyard. It was blank.

        That oughta mess those fuckers from the future up.

        ws

    • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Friday July 17, 2009 @09:08AM (#28729301)

      While I agree with the technical criticisms, I cant agree with the attitude of "future people will be so rational and alien to us they wont understand fiction or care about history." Humanity has always cared about stories, its where we learn things as children and as children we demand stories. We have also always have cared deeply about our roots and our understanding of history.

      Even in some uber-technological future the tools that make us smart in engineering are the same tools that make us curious. Curious and smart go hand in hand, and we will always be curious about the past.

      Just because the future is unpredictable doesnt mean we should care about preserving the culture and history of the present.

      >>They may well be pissing on our graves for having ruined the planet, and these disks may simply be destroyed as examples of the evil Evil EVIL petroleum age

      Wow, angsty much? Are modern people sitting and seething in anger over the dodo bird and other species hunted to extinction? No, we're interested in the motivations and history of the period.

      >>the cultural interest in such behaviour (sitting and watching a screen)

      How old is the collection of christian myths? People are still interested in reading it and usually in the form of a book!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by xigxag (167441)

      The point of a "thousand year DVD" is not to archive something for literally one thousand years. Very few if any companies would have any possible business need for such a thing. The point is that if you have a 'large enough' number of DVDs with a 50 year MTTF, some of them will fail well within the time frame that they might be called into use, whereas a 1,000 year DVD is much less likely to have a catastrophic failure within its useful lifespan. Theoretically.

    • 9. a civilization/culture left

    • by b4dc0d3r (1268512)

      You're thinking that someone will just store these away and hope for the best. The point isn't to preserve stuff for later. The point is, in my opinion, that current storage doesn't last long. This storage option lasts longer. If you want to preserve things for 1k years and have a plan for it, great. Think more like 50 years - or 100, a person's lifetime. Current burnable DVD/CD tech doesn't do that. I'd like to count on my media lasting more than 3 years, so I'm all for this.

  • > Millenniata, is said to be in the final stages of negotiation with Phillips over patent licensing and plans to begin manufacture in September.

    I guess Phillips felt sorry for some old lady who fell for a Nigerian government scam and decided to hire her...

    Anyone who buys this is an idiot.
  • by slo5oh (1375437) on Friday July 17, 2009 @08:10AM (#28728525)
    If this is true then shouldn't new movies come with a date stamp on the case so you know you're buying a "fresh" copy? Sounds strange to me. I've got data and music CD's I made over 10 years ago that still work. Can't say I've been burning DVDs that long though.
  • Only 7-12 years (Score:3, Informative)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday July 17, 2009 @08:14AM (#28728571)
    I have DVD's in my collection now older than 12 years old and they work fine. Maybe they mean recordable discs?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I have CDRs in my collection that are now more than 14 years old, and DVDRs more than 8 years old - all working fine.

      Through observing friends' and foes' constant problems with burnt discs going bad after months, weeks, days - and sometimes even hours (yes, for real) - I found that they all had one thing in common: they all burnt their discs at the fastest speed the media allowed. I have never burnt a disc faster than half its maximum speed, and so far not a single (again: not a single) disc has gone bad w

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by jgardner100 (559892)
      I have 13 year old recordable cd's in my collection (I can date them based on the birth of my daughter) and dvds that aren't that much younger. The article doesn't specify where is got that time scale from so I have to put it down to they made it up.
      • by MightyYar (622222)

        My first CDs were the "Miami Vice Soundtrack" and the "Beverly Hills Cop Soundtrack" from 1984 or 1985. Last I checked, they still play.

        But first of all, they aren't talking about CDs, they are talking about data DVDs. And second, they are almost certainly referring to recordables, not pressed.

    • by Rashkae (59673)

      Common misconception,,, the 3 to 10 years is is the expected lifespan of RW media. R media, barring defects, should last over 25 years under normal storage. (Should definitely outlast our ability to find readers for them, in any case.)

  • Now, if everyone understands DRM and closed formats are hopelessly short sighted, maybe we can avoid the current day being the future's digital dark age. We can leave a legacy of storage media still readable in formats whose workings are widely known. Some would leave their descendants a tangled mess of data hidden with secrets on media not designed to last longer than a decade. Which is not really seeing the bigger picture.....
  • This is actually useful to those of us looking for a decent data archiving system. While I'm not aiming for a 1000 years of recovery, 20-30 would be decent.

    To answer the next question; if enough people think the same way, yes there will be a player for them in 30 years. And many of us are thinking the same way. For reference; there are turntables with USB interfaces.

    • by u38cg (607297)
      Are there USB turntables that turn in both directions, are fully variable in speed up to 100rpm, including the ability to deal with constant linear velocity, take discs up to half a metre across, with two arms for seperately tracked grooves?
  • 1000 year Reich?

    I *KNEW* it!

    By the way: Why would anyone put a date on when their empire will die? I mean imagine the Nazis sitting together after winning. 1000 years went by. And someone goes: "Now what?" ;)

    Also: Instant Godwin'd! ^^

  • Impossible-to-substantiate claims of long-term data integrity aside, it's an absurd concept.

    A 'DVD that can be read for 1,000 years'? It will be nothing short of incredible if you can even read it in a HUNDRED years. I'm not saying their uber material and process won't etch rather more permanent 1s and 0s into the disc. I'm saying that even if each one comes WITH a DVD drive to archive with it (And at that price, they could.) the chances are still pretty slim that anyone could access the data in any mean

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by DutchUncle (826473)

      (And exactly what are you going to be archiving that you think will still be relevant or usable in a thousand years?)

      We still read classic books, watch classic movies, view the originals of artwork. We still reference old records, particularly census and immigration and other genealogical information. We build whole societies around books that are hundreds, or thousands, of years old.

      True, anything in constant contemporaneous use will be moved to updated media on an ongoing basis (like those books); but it's always good to check with the originals for authenticity. Imagine if we could see what various famous authors

    • by Belial6 (794905) on Friday July 17, 2009 @10:23AM (#28730383)
      Forgetting that they didn't have carmeras... If someone popped up with a bunch of photos from little Octavius's birthday party from the height of the Roman Empire, TONS of people would be interested in seeing it. From the way they were dressed, to the kinds of gifts they gave, to the way they had their home decorated. Many people really are intersted in the past, and the past is often lost because only extrodinary situation get recorded for the ages. Day to day life is much harder to get a view of.
  • So long after I'm dead, my pr0n collection can be uncovered in the great garbage avalanche of 2505.

    Excellent!

  • it would take 1000 years to see if this works, and usually most people don't make it that long...!
    Is this for a regular 5 gb dvd, or a more volumed 50gb blue ray dvd?

  • is behind this technology, I remember hearing and talking a little to him about the research he was doing. It has been a few years since I graduated now. It is pretty cool to see something coming to fruition. The Information Technology program at BYU was the perfect place for a person like me and largely because of the amazing professors who were putting it together when I was there. Of course this technology may not last 1000 years but if it doesn't it will be able to do so because something better came a
  • Why recreate the wheel if using paint on cave walls has always worked in the past? :)

  • Call me when they have a cheap 1,000 year blue ray and blue ray burner.

  • Sun Computers: "The Network is the Computer"

    Me: "The Network is the Hard Drive"

    Don't bother saving stuff on a dvd. Just encrypt it and gmail it
    to yourself, and you're good.

    Oh, don't forget to pass your password down to the grand-kids
    before your memory goes.

  • I suppose that I'm the only one who sighed when reading a number range being described as an average. Come on, other nerds, be a LITTLE bit critical. It's ?. and Friday! (In the Bay Area, it's Fry'sDay, 'cos that's when the San Jose Mercury News has the multi page ad section).

  • The plastic itself will not survive the 1000 years. ^^

    Also, I doubt that you will find a working reader.

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