Timeline: Digital Technology and Preservation

This timeline highlights key events, projects, publications, and technological changes affecting the use of digital technology and efforts to preserve it. You can apply filters to the timeline by clicking on the green tabs below. For a complete, unfiltered, list of entries, choose Timeline: Digital Technology and Preservation in the breadcrumbs above. The seven subject categories include:

1881

  • Census punch card

    J.S. Billings, then director of what was to become the National Library of Medicine, suggests to Herman Hollerith that a mechanical system based on cards be used to tabulate the Census. Hollerith develops a punch card system used with the 1890 Census. 

1928

  • IBM punch card

    IBM introduces a rectangular hole punch card that becomes the industry standard.

1971

  • 8-inch floppy disk

    The 8" floppy disk appears. It doesn't seem large at the time.

1972

  • Laserdiscs are introduced.

1976

  • 5.25" floppy disks

    The first 5.25" floppy disks are introduced. When this product reaches the PC market it causes an explosive growth in digital information storage.

1978

  • Philips releases the laserdisc player.

1980

  • Laserdiscs begin to develop "Laser rot" due to oxidation of the aluminum layer.

1981

  • 3.5" floppy disks

    Sony introduces the first 3 1/2" floppy drives and diskettes.

1982

  • Sony and Philips introduce the first CD player.

  • Compact Disk-Digital Audio (CD-DA) is introduced to the market jointly by Philips and Sony.

1983

  • 60mb cassette tape

    The QIC Standard becomes the first standard in computer history for tape drives.

1984

  • Philips and Sony introduce CD-ROM technology.

1986

  • DAT tape

    Digital Audio Tape (DAT) is introduced.

  • Philips and Sony join forces to create the CD-Interactive or CD-I format.

1988

  • Vinyl record

    CDs outsell vinyl records.

1989

1990

  • CD-R

    Philips specifies the characteristics and format of a recordable CD, or CD-R.

  • Most 2-inch videotape machines become obsolete.

  • Kodak announces the development of the Photo CD.

1991

  • Philips introduces Compact Disc Interactive (CD-I) player for music and video.

1992

  • The digital Sony Mini-Disc is introduced.

  • CDs outsell cassette tapes.

1997

  • DVD

    DVD discs and players become commercially available.

  • HD-ROM is announced by Norsam Technologies.

  • Rosetta

    Rosetta disk is announced.

1998

  • MP-3 players for downloaded Internet audio appear.

2000

  • A commercial Digital Video Recording (DVR) system is developed by TiVo, Inc. Reruns of Columbo can now be recorded digitally, saved, and viewed anytime.

2002

2004

  • Apple's family of personal music players, the iPod, dominates the market with over 5.7 million units sold since their debut in late 2001.

2005