Over the years, I’ve tried to save copies of everything, but even when everything is in digital format, this can be more difficult than it ever should have been.
Not only can you run out of digital storage room, but software changes so that either you can’t open the file or you can’t even open the software that created the file. Also, your digital storage itself can be hit with a glitch that renders the file unreadable.
From all outward appearances, virtually all of my correspondence between 1979 and 1998 has fallen victim to at least one — and possible all — of these maladies.
Back in those days, I was probably using FrameMaker for everything except website stuff. The Adobe bought FrameMaker. Then Adobe killed FrameMaker. OK, but I still had all the files, right? Well, they had to go somewhere. To preserve room on my hard drive (remember when you used to be able to run out of hard drive space?), I saved everything into one big archive file using StuffIt. Now, StuffIt cannot open the archive file, possibly because some of the files inside the archive file are not 100% compatibly with the new operating system, but also possibly because in the twenty years since I created that archive, that file did not get copied properly from computer to computer to computer. Even if I were able to open it, I’d then have to figure out how to open the proprietary FrameMaker files to retrieve the content.
Supposedly, the tech team at Smith Micro has been working on extracting the contents of this archive since December 2017, but thus far, no joy.
So, I’m left with scraps, most of which are paper copies of correspondence sent to me.
Aren’t computers fun?