Tape Formats and Hardware - Research and Planning Efforts


Research and Planning Efforts

While some of the sources below contain information about newer formats and hardware, the emphasis in our research was obsolete or endangered formats and hardware.

Experimental Television Center
The Video History Project has an area devoted to Tools, which contains technical information and descriptions of early commercial and artist-crafted instruments.

Independent Media Arts Preservation
Through some of its earlier research efforts, work was begun on the possible development of a resource guide devoted to technical resources and expertise - a compilation of sources of older equipment, parts, software, manuals, and schematics as well as contacts for inventors, engineers, repair places and the like.

Media Alliance
Through the Magnetic Media Preservation Sourcebook  preliminary research was done on sources of older equipment.

Specs Brothers
Specialists in tape restoration and disaster recovery, Specs Brothers publishes relevant preservation information on the website.

Tape Format Guides and Descriptions

Ampex Corporation. A Guide to Media and Formats. Redwood City, CA: Ampex, Magnetic Tape Division, 1989.

Ampex Virtual Museum by Howard Sanner  has historical information about Ampex devices and some reprinted publications.

Consumer Video Formats

Iisakkila, Mika Video recording formats

Lion Lamb Quadruplex Park
An extensive and detailed technical definition of most of the early formats used in video recording.

Murphy, William T., Television and Video Preservation 1997.  Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1997.
See the chapter "The Materials and their Preservation Needs" tape charts.

Stauderman, Sarah. The Video Format Identification Guide
This site can assist you in identifying the various videotape formats in your collections; over 50 different video formats have been used since the technology was introduced in the 1950s. The formats are organized by time periods, with an indication of the difficulty of accessing the technology. This information and pictures were put together as part of the Electronic Media Special Interest Group of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC).

Video Format Guide offers Videotape Format Characteristics and Videotape Format Descriptions with a picture of each.

Sources for Information on Hardware

The Association of Moving Image Archivists  maintains a listserv focusing on topics relating to the preservation of moving images. [email protected] for posting; [email protected] to subscribe.

Dave Jones Design
Specializes in custom designs of equipment and systems for artists and has assisted museums in re-creating installations which depend on obsolete equipment and techniques.

Dead Media Project
The site has extensive links to technology and a discussion group. The Working Notes contains information about devices.

Bob Ketchum A Timeline of Audio/Video Technology

Labguy's The History of the Video Tape Recorder before Betamax and VHS

Museum of Early Video Editing Equipment and Techniques

Steve Schoenherr Recording Technology History

VidiPax has an on-line museum. The VidiPax web site includes articles and a video preservation links section. Links range from associations, organizations and professional groups to technical resources

Video Expert
Detailed technical information about video, and how it works. Includes description of how analog video is recorded, and the use of test signals and equipment