The Sharp calculator to the left is an electronic antique in all senses of the word. This Elsimate EL-201 is 39 years old—my late father originally used it. I still rely on the Sharp from time to time, such as when working on taxes.
And now two related questions:
1. What “legacy” electronics do you yourself actually use, not just preserve? Use for what? Smartphones, such as the Nexus 6 with which I snapped the photo, could be useless as phones 39 years hence due to carriers’ changing technical standards. But maybe they’ll still work as computers and cameras, at least with software that needn’t check in with a certain site.
2 Just what electronic devices do you expect to pass on for your children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews to actually be able to use?
Given some major e-book vendors’ current reliance on proprietary formats—as well as use of proprietary DRM when publishers want it—what does this mean in terms of generation-to-generation pass-ons of books? Never mind the single-user license model.
To what extent, 40-50 years from now, could your now-brand-new Kindle be functional, assuming the battery’s still good?
I suspect that old Kindles and Nooks and Kobos will work just fine with non-encrypted files and perhaps even with DRMed ones, as long as there’s no requirement to phone home to the mother ship.
Will the oldies be able to read future formats, though? My hunch is that they will be capable of displaying ePub books if the International Digital Publishing Forum bakes in enough backwards compatibility. However much an ePub booster, I won’t count on it for certain. Still, e-book standards should at least make it easier to come up with conversion software.
No, I won’t even get into the cultural ramifications here, including the fact that permanence or at least longevity—in various ways—has traditionally has been among the salient traits of “quality” books. As we know, however, DRM isn’t exactly that best way to facilitate the transmission of culture and knowledge from generation to generation.
After almost forty years, AA batteries are around for dad’s calculator. Wouldn’t it be terrific if e-books and related gizmos would hold up just as well?