Time Travel via a 30-Year Old Cassette (GeekDad Weekly Rewind)


Our friends over at GeekDad UK have a touching post about the benefits of preserving audio of ourselves, or in Gabe McGarth’s case, his dad. His mom had come across an old cassette tape, and realizing what it was, Gabe knew he had to convert it to a digital medium to preserve it. In his own words speaking about the tape:

It was an old tape our dad made in the early 80s. From memory, it was him reading kids books — Noddy, The Railway Stories — that sort of thing. My father used to travel for work, so he’d made this cassette for bedtime stories while he was away. And here it was, in my hand three decades later.

The reason for my excitement goes beyond simple nostalgia. You see, my father passed away in an accident in 1994. My son (aged 19 months) and his five cousins will never get to meet their grandad on my side of the family. My little fella will never be able to share hundreds of normal, everyday “grandfatherly” experiences. Except one: bedtime stories. That’s if I could safely retrieve the audio off this thirty-year old cassette.

I have a similar desire to preserve recordings of myself as a sort of time capsule to my kids. But I’m already in the digital realm and I’m afraid that files squirreled around in my hard drive won’t have the staying power that physical media have. Not to mention the lack of intent in my recordings that are so obviously present in Gabe’s father’s recordings. I’m happy for him and for his kids; getting to experience something of their grandfather must be so touching.

[This story originally ran on March 16th]

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