The ancient prophecies of "doomsday" were actually fulfilled in 1986, when the British Broadcasting Corporation digitized all the inhabitants of the entire United Kingdom and found that, with some clever compression algorithms, they fitted entirely inside a single BBC Model B computer with the 32K expanded RAM, plus a modified laserdisc (to store all the cat photos).

Since then it's just been a matter of tweaking the emulation algorithms.

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(holds hand to earpiece)

I've just been advised that the BBC Domesday Project actually used a BBC Master with 128K of RAM and a SCSI interface to digitize all of the inhabitants of the United Kingdom in 1986.

The City of London fitted fine in 32K (simulating all the bankers only took 4K), but Scotland needed a lot more because of the young Charlie Stross.

The estimated 1.4 gigabytes of laserdisc storage was actually filled with pictures of horses, not cats.


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The funny part of the whole BBC Domesday saga is that after they solved the problem of the media becoming physically unreadable, then all the content got snarled up in copyright, so the web page was taken down in 2018, so the only way you can now see it is via a buggy, unsearchable archive.

Computers! For all your Information Storage and Retrieval Needs, Now and for the Future! *

* May not actually be able to retrieve stored information in the future

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<< In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content. >>

Nine years later, one of those web technologies survives.

(But copyright turned out to be what killed it, sigh).

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Though I guess the National Archives archive from 2018 is somewhat searchable? So maybe after six years they got the copyright problems sorted out. And hopefully the Flash parts can be ripped out.

Still it's a fascinating example of just how fragile even a "let's save historical data" project can be.

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@natecull Some of the online and rebuild versions use my BeebEm emulator (heavily modified) - and hmm, note that's a BBC Master with copro rather than a Model B; I'm also not sure if they used any compression at all...

wait, if has a Wikipedia article that must mean it's real :blocky_white_cursor: 😱

@natecull Well, the BBC has a horrible track record on handling data and archives. Unless they misplaced their tack record, like an old Doctor Who episode. Or recorded something else over it.

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