Recent developments in decomposition and preservation of magnetic tape
Ian Gilmour and Viktor Fumic, National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra, Australia
Presented in the Technical Committee Open Session at the IASA/ASRA Conference, Canberra, 1992
Originally printed in the Phonographic Bulletin, issue 61 November 1992, pages 74-86.
Sound Archives typically rely on 1/4” analogue tape as a preservation medium, but many recent tape formulations have proven to have much shorter life spans than expected, with some failing much sooner than typical varieties from 30 or 40 years ago. Tape composition, mechanisms of decomposition, analysis and restoration are outlined, along with implications and strategies for preservation. Detailed discussion focuses on the success of acid and soluble content measurements, and low humidity rejuvenation of tapes with hydrolysed binders.