as part of this discussion we are inviting pioneers in art and technology
to give their inputs and thoughts on archiving and restoring of their own
here is a thought from A Michael Noll one of the Pioneers at Bell labs
Noll recently published an article part of his memoires in Leonardo at
we encourage all the pioneers pathbreakers to publish their memoires
Dr. A. Michael Noll
Web Site: http://noll.uscannenberg.org/
An interesting question when it comes to digital art is what is the
original. Is it the program, the pattern itself, prints, or whatever?
Thus what is it that needs to be preserved?
I programmed my initial digital computer art in 1962 on an IBM 7090
computer using FORTRAN. The programs were punched on IBM cards that
were lost years ago. But even if they existed, the output device -- a
Stromberg Carlson SC-4020 microfilm plotter -- no longer exists. There
are listings of some of the programs, and they might be resurrected
for today's computers. But the random number algorithms that were
originally used no longer exist. Thus different random numbers would
be calculated today, and the resulting images would be somewhat
However, the original images were on 35 mm microfilm -- and some of
them still exist and can be viewed today. Glossy prints were made from
the microfilm in the 1960s, and many of these prints are still
available today. Paper enlargements were made from the microfilm, but
paper unfortunately deteriorates and hence is no longer available. So
in the end, the old media of film and prints survive and serve as the
A. Michael Noll
June 28, 2014
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