Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Laserdisc Has Been Retired

Many visitors to the Addison know what I'm talking about. Since 1992, we've had an Apple computer hooked up to a laserdisc in our Reading Room that allowed the public to browse images and information about our permanent collection. A laserdisc, for those not in the know, was a large record-sized disc that looked somewhat like a compact disc on steroids. (see below) It has now gone the way of the eight-track tape and the aforementioned vinyl record. Once you selected a collection record on the computer it would find its image on the laserdisc and display it on a small monitor. It was ahead of its time in 1992, well before "internet" and "web" became household words.

Last December, after spending two years upgrading our in-house database software and beginning a massive digitization project, we posted our collection on the web. By clicking the
Collections button on our main page, anyone visiting our website can search and browse records for every object in our permanent collection. Everything acquired from when the Addison's doors first opened in 1931 to those approved at the most recent Trustees Meeting are there, much better than the laserdisc's cut off date of 1992. While only 60% of the records are accompanied by images at the moment, we are adding more images every day and each record will tell you whether the object is currently on view or not in the museum.

So, just two weeks ago, we replaced our venerable Apple and laserdisc player in the reading room with a new computer that allows its users to access our website. So anyone can now browse our entire collection, either here in the Addison, or from home. I've carefully placed the laserdisc itself into our archives for posterity. The question now is: how long will it be before the internet goes the way of the laserdisc?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! It is very exciting to be able to browse the entire Addison collection from my PC at home. This is a wonderful resource.