I began collecting examples of media formats in early 2006, and now have at least one example of over 420 different types covering audio, video and data, with lots more identified that I have yet to collect.
In 2014, I also began to collect film formats.
To give a bit more background to the collection, I thought I provide answers to some possible questions…
Why did you start the Museum?
When I first started collecting examples of obsolete (or soon to be obsolete) formats, it was mainly as a way of having tangible examples of formats that I had known and used. Many of the formats I had grown up with, such as video tapes, music cassettes and floppy disks were quickly disappearing, sometimes to be replaced by other formats, but increasingly with no physical format at all, as content is increasingly delivered over the internet.
As the collection grew, I became aware of more and more formats that I had never even heard of, and the urge grew to collect all of these. The collection will never be completed as many formats are so rare, and it’s difficult even to find information about some of them. This is partly what has made it more interesting, the chance discovery of an example of something I’ve been looking for for ages, or more often the discovery of something I’d never even heard of.
As a librarian by profession, I wanted a means to organise the collection, to document it properly and to make it discoverable in different ways, through lists, images, tags and so on. The creation of this website in 2013 allowed me to do this both to satisfy my own desire for order, but also to satisfy a sense of responsibility I felt having collected so many formats, including some unusual and rare exhibits, to share the collection with the wider world.
Why don’t you collect the equipment or devices needed to use the media?
It’s mainly a question of space and cost. With over 400 formats in the collection, I would probably need around 300 or more devices to use them all. I already have some of the devices necessary to use some formats (as many of us probably do) such as a record player, digital camera, mobile phone, DVD player and so on, and I have bought a few items to use as props in photographs, or on occasion had to buy the device to get hold of an example of the media.
At this stage though, I have no further plans to collect equipment.
Where do you source all the exhibits?
Most of the items are purchased from ebay. I’ve also had some very kind donations, and have swapped a few items with other collectors. A few items have come from antique shops, and a few items were owned by me but not purchased specifically for the collection.
Will you ever complete the collection?
No! The more I collect, the more formats or variations of formats I discover. My ‘wanted’ list never seems to get any smaller, but it does get more difficult and expensive to source items. However, many items that I never thought I’d obtain have cropped up, so I hope to carry on as long as I can.
I’ve had quite a number of suggestions of formats I’ve missed, and these have been really helpful, so please feel free to let me know if you spot anything that is not already on the wanted list.
In one sense, it is nice to collect in an area that is open-ended and will never be complete.