Timeline: Digital Technology and Preservation

This timeline highlights key events, projects, publications, and technological changes affecting the use of digital technology and efforts to preserve it. You can apply filters to the timeline by clicking on the green tabs below. For a complete, unfiltered, list of entries, choose Timeline: Digital Technology and Preservation in the breadcrumbs above. The seven subject categories include:


  • Census punch card

    J.S. Billings, then director of what was to become the National Library of Medicine, suggests to Herman Hollerith that a mechanical system based on cards be used to tabulate the Census. Hollerith develops a punch card system used with the 1890 Census. 


  • Enigma machine

    Dr. Arthur Scherbius begins manufacturing the Enigma machine, capable of transcribing coded information. Enigma is later used by the German forces in WWII.


  • Hollerith's "Computer Tabulating Recording Company" is renamed "International Business Machines Corporation" (IBM).


  • IBM punch card

    IBM introduces a rectangular hole punch card that becomes the industry standard.


  • First use of the term digital applied to a computer that operates on data in the form of digits or similar discrete elements: "The emitter...differs from the other emitters in that it has twelve digital conducting spots."


  • "Bomba," a highly specific electro-mechanical device, successfully decodes many German Luftwaffe and Navy messages for the Allies.

  • A committee at the US National Archives determines that federal agencies (rather than archivists) can determine whether records stored in punch cards have historical value and should be preserved. Following this decision, few agencies retain any punch card records for historical purposes.


  • Vannevar Bush's article "As We May Think" predicts the evolution of hypertext.

  • Construction of the ENIAC, one of the first electronic computers, is completed. ENIAC filled an entire room, weighed thirty tons, and consumed two hundred kilowatts of power.

  • Moth

    Grace Hopper finds the first computer bug. A moth had been caught in the circuitry of the Mark II computer system at Harvard.



  • The first commercial computer, UNIVAC I, is introduced.


  • Grace Hopper develops the first compiler, laying the foundations for programming languages.

  • IBM introduces IBM 701, the first commercial scientific computer.


  • IBM introduces RAMAC, the first commercial disk drive. It used 50 hefty aluminum disks, stored 5Mb, occupied the space of two refrigerators, and weighed a ton.

  • The ENIAC is turned off for the last time. It’s estimated to have done more arithmetic than the entire human race had done prior to 1945.


  • Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) is created by US Department of Defense to ensure military leadership in science and technology.


  • The first teletype is connected to a "timesharing" mainframe computer.


  • ICPSR logo

    Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) at the University of Michigan is established as a data archive.


  • IBM's Cambridge Research Lab begins the CP-40 project to build the first VM (virtual machine) timesharing system.

  • One of the first general purpose mainframe computers, the IBM System/360, is announced.

  • Early computer

    Beginner's All Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code (BASIC) is developed at Dartmouth College.


  • Moore's Law established - Gordon Moore correctly predicts that the number of transistors on a microprocessor will double approximately every 18 months.

  • Introduction of DIGITAL's PDP-8, the world's first mass-produced minicomputer.


  • The term "microcomputer" is first used in print.

  • Marc code "500 general note"

    US libraries begin using MAchine Readable Cataloging (MARC) records.


  • Generalized Markup Language (GML) is introduced.

  • The first ARPANET node is installed at UCLA Network Measurement Center.

  • The first "Requests for Comments" (RFC) proposed to standardize the transfer of information across the ARPA network.


  • IBM System/370 is introduced. The 370 is one of the first lines of computers to implement the notion of a virtual machine, allowing users to share mainframe resources.

  • PDP-11 the first of DIGITAL's 16-bit family of machines is delivered.


  • 8-inch floppy disk

    The 8" floppy disk appears. It doesn't seem large at the time.

  • UNIX Time Sharing System First Edition is patented by Bell Labs.

  • Ohio College Library Center (OCLC) introduces an online shared cataloging system for libraries.

  • Project Gutenberg begins to text encode public domain written works in the hope that they will be freely reproduced and distributed.

  • The first ARPANET network email message is transmitted.

  • File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is first proposed.


  • The programming languages C and FORTRAN 66 are created.

  • Pong

    Atari releases Pong, the first commercial video game.

  • Dialog offers the first publicly available online research service.

  • Intel introduces its 200-KHz 8008 chip, the first commercial 8-bit microprocessor. This sparks the development of smaller, faster, and cheaper computers.

  • Laserdiscs are introduced.

  • The US Technology Assessment Act is passed to "aid in the identification and consideration of existing and probable impacts of technological application."


  • Mouse and pad

    Xerox Alto is the first personal computer with a built-in mouse and a graphical user interface (GUI) from which most modern GUIs are derived.

  • The first ARPANET nodes appear in Europe.

  • Ethernet cable

    Bob Metcalfe invents Ethernet, a local area network (LAN) technology.


  • Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) specification is published.


  • The Altair 8800 is sold as a kit. Its creator, Ed Roberts, coins the term "personal computer."

  • Ohio State University introduces one of the first online catalogs.

  • The Kurzweil Reading Machine combines omni-font OCR, flat-bed scanners, and text-to-speech synthesis to create the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind. This is the first practical application of OCR technology.

  • First list servers are introduced.

  • First appearance of an interpreted BASIC programming language.


  • Queen Elizabeth II

    Queen Elizabeth II becomes the first world leader to send an e-mail.

  • Steve Wozniak and Randy Wigginton demonstrate the first prototype Apple II at a Homebrew Computer Club meeting.

  • The world's first supercomputer, the Cray-1, is introduced.

  • Bill Gates drops out of Harvard to devote his full attention to Microsoft.

  • 5.25" floppy disks

    The first 5.25" floppy disks are introduced. When this product reaches the PC market it causes an explosive growth in digital information storage.


  • 100 hosts exist on ARPANET.

  • The Commodore PET, Apple II, and Radio Shack's TRS-80 are all released.

  • Introduction of the VAX-11/780 "supermini" computer.

  • CP/M Operating system developed by Digital Research Corporation becomes the dominant standard for the personal computer in business, but incompatible floppy disk formats and the success of MS-DOS and the IBM PC in 1981 eventually led to its demise.


  • The VMS 1.0 operating system is designed by Digital in conjunction with their 32-bit VAX processor for use in time sharing, batch processing, and transaction processing.

  • Dallas Public Library introduces one of the first online public catalogs (OPACs).

  • worm

    A "worm" program that searches out other computers copies itself then self-destructs is invented by two Xerox PARC researchers.

  • Philips releases the laserdisc player.


  • USENET emerges as a collection of user-submitted messages on various subjects posted to servers on a worldwide network.

  • WordStar software becomes the first commercially successful word processor.


  • Digital faxes using uniform data standards appear.

  • The TELNET protocol is specified, allowing command line login sessions between hosts.

  • Laserdiscs begin to develop "Laser rot" due to oxidation of the aluminum layer.

  • FORTRAN 77 programming language is created.


  • BITNET, a network of academic sites comparable to but separate from the Internet, appears.

  • Commodore ships the VIC-20.

  • The IBM PC 8080 is introduced.

  • MSDOS 1.0 operating system is released.

  • 3.5" floppy disks

    Sony introduces the first 3 1/2" floppy drives and diskettes.


  • Sony and Philips introduce the first CD player.

  • Compact Disk-Digital Audio (CD-DA) is introduced to the market jointly by Philips and Sony.

  • The National Information Systems Task Force (NISTF) develops the first two formally recognized archival description standards in the US: NISTF Data Elements Dictionary and USMARC AMC.

  • ARPANET shifts to TCP/IP.

  • The Commodore 64 is sold with 64KB of RAM and Microsoft BASIC.

  • VAX-11/730 is released.


  • LZW image compression algorithm is developed and is adopted for compression of modem communications and TIFF, GIF, PDF, Zip, and Postscript files. Belated assertion of the LZW patent in GIF files leads to the development of the PNG image file format in 1995.

  • Apple's Lisa is introduced, the first commercial microcomputer with a graphical user interface.

  • 60mb cassette tape

    The QIC Standard becomes the first standard in computer history for tape drives.


  • virus

    University of Southern California professor Fred Cohen creates alarm when he warns the public about computer viruses.

  • Architecture of the Domain Name System (DNS) is designed, contains 1000 hosts.

  • Apple Macintosh is introduced, the first mainstream commercial computer with a graphical user interface. In six months sales of the computer reach 100,000.

  • As personal computers become more powerful, people become accustomed to faster machines and graphical interfaces. Use shifts from centralized mainframes to personal computers distributed over a network.

  • Philips and Sony introduce CD-ROM technology.


  • The combination of Aldus PageMaker for the Macintosh and the Apple LaserWriter laser printer usher in the era of desktop publishing.

  • Chess piece

    A Carnegie Mellon doctoral student named Feng-hsiung Hsu begins to develop a chess-playing computer called "Chiptest," which evolves into Deep Blue.

  • Microsoft Windows 1.0 is created, representing a shift from the DOS operating system.


  • Philips and Sony join forces to create the CD-Interactive or CD-I format.

  • Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) standard is published.

  • More than 30 million computers are in use in the United States.

  • The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) becomes the first supercomputer center in the US.

  • NSFNET replaces ARPANET as the main government network linking universities and research facilities.

  • Tagged Image File Format (TIFF) is developed by Aldus.

  • DAT tape

    Digital Audio Tape (DAT) is introduced.


  • The number of DNS hosts begins doubling each year.

  • NCSA develops NCSA telnet, making it easier to connect to a remote computer.

  • The GIF graphics image format is introduced by CompuServe.

  • IBM sends clone manufacturers letters demanding retroactive licensing fees.


  • Z39.50 becomes the international standard defining a protocol for computer-to-computer information retrieval. Z39.50 makes it possible for a user to search and retrieve information from other computer systems without knowing the search syntax used by those other systems.

  • Apple introduces PICT image file format.

  • IBM AS/400, a minicomputer for small business and departmental users, is released.

  • VAX 6200 is released.

  • Vinyl record

    CDs outsell vinyl records.

  • virus

    The Internet Worm virus temporarily shuts down 10% of the world's Internet servers.

  • File formats in a word cloud

    Proprietary file formats proliferate. Competing word processing software and file formats lead to rapid obsolescence.

  • United States agrees to the terms of the Berne Convention, promoting international standards in copyright protection and resulting in the elimination of copyright notice for copyright protection.


  • MCI Mail and Compuserv provide the first commercial email connection through NSFNET.

  • Science Citation Index® is published on compact disk.


  • Kodak announces the development of the Photo CD.

  • TEI P1 "Guidelines for the Encoding and Interchange of Machine Readable Texts" are published.

  • Archie software for searching FTP sites is released.

  • Microsoft Windows 3.0 is released, beginning the era of Microsoft's domination of the software industry.

  • CD-R

    Philips specifies the characteristics and format of a recordable CD, or CD-R.

  • Most 2-inch videotape machines become obsolete.

  • CNI logo

    Coalition for Networked Information (CNI) founded.

  • The early 1990s see an explosion in online publishing and a rush to digitize print materials.


  • Wide Area Information Server (WAIS) protocol is introduced, allowing collections of indexed data to be retrieved by searches.

  • An early World Wide Web (WWW) system is released by CERN to the high energy physics community.

  • HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) initial draft.

  • Gopher

    Gopher, a distributed document search and retrieval network protocol, is released.

  • JPEG still picture compression standard introduced.

  • Several projects representing collaborations between academic journal publishers and universities (e.g., CORE, Red Sage, and TULIP) begin to explore distribution of scholarly journal content via the Internet.

  • Philips introduces Compact Disc Interactive (CD-I) player for music and video.

  • arXiv, an automated repository and distribution system for preparing articles in physics, mathematics, computer science, and quantitative biology is launched.

  • Australian Center for Remote Sensing (ACRES) rescues aging space data from disintegration by migrating from high-density magnetic tapes to optical tape.


  • Quicktime logo

    Apple debuts the "QuickTime" multimedia format.

  • Adobe announces the release of PDF 1.0, which eventually becomes the standard format for electronic publishing.

  • Veronica, a Gopher search engine, is released.

  • MPEG 1 standard is published.

  • The digital Sony Mini-Disc is introduced.

  • Network service providers America Online and Delphi connect their proprietary email systems to the Internet, beginning the large scale adoption of Internet email as a global standard.

  • CDs outsell cassette tapes.

  • National Computer Security Center (NCSC) defines a trusted computer system as one "that employs sufficient hardware and software assurance measures to allow its use for simultaneous processing of a range of sensitive or classified information."

  • Cornell publishes a joint report on use of digital imaging to reformat brittle books.

  • Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) protocol proposed.


  • InterNIC is created to manage Internet services.

  • Mosaic logo

    First graphical browser for the web, Mosaic, is introduced.

  • Windows NT is released, providing advanced network connectivity.

  • MPEG-2 standard for digital television pictures is published.

  • The HTML 1.0 standard is published.

  • CERN releases the World Wide Web into the public domain.


  • Cornell's Digital to Microfilm Conversion Project begins to test and evaluate the use of high resolution bitonal imaging to produce computer output microfilm.

  • Yale University’s Project Open Book begins a comprehensive feasibility study on the digital conversion of microfilmed library materials.

  • Netscape logo

    Netscape 1.0 web browser is introduced, replacing Mosaic.

  • Linux penguin logo

    Linus Torvalds, 21, writes an operating system called Linux, bringing the open-source movement into the mainstream.

  • Fewer than 75 peer-reviewed electronic journals are online.

  • World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is established to develop common WWW protocols.

  • Library of Congress creates the National Digital Library Program (NDLP).


  • RealAudio is introduced.

  • Java, an object-oriented programming language, is announced by Sun.

  • Iomega Zip disk

    Iomega debuts high-capacity drives "Jaz" and "Zip".

  • Netscape announces Javascript, an object-oriented scripting language.

  • National Science Foundation dismantles NSFnet and replaces it with a commercial Internet backbone.

  • HTML 2.0, the first formal HTML standard, is published.

  • Launch of D-Lib Magazine, which focuses on digital library research and development.

  • Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) 1.0 is introduced.

  • Journal Storage (JSTOR) becomes an independent nonprofit with the mission to build a trusted digital archive of scholarly journal literature.

  • PowerMac

    The Xerox DocuTech Publishing System is designed for "print-on-demand" network accessed document publishing.

  • The Kodak DC40 and the Apple QuickTake 100 become the first digital cameras marketed for consumers.

  • Dublin Core logo

    Dublin Core Metadata Initiative originates.

  • Internet Explorer 2.0 web browser is introduced.

  • QuickTime 2.0 is introduced.

  • IEEE1394, a.k.a Firewire, is introduced as a new standard for connecting computer devices. Initially proposed as a successor to SCSI, Firewire’s fast data transfer speeds made it well suited for video devices, such as digital camcorders, and hard drives.


  • Internet2 project is formed to provide a high-bandwith network for the national research community.

  • Research agenda for networked cultural heritage

    The Getty Art History Information Program releases a Research Agenda for Networked Cultural Heritage.

  • PNG 1.0 image format approved as a W3C Recommendation.

  • EU Database direction provides copyright protection to databases, even if the content is in the public domain.

  • PADI logo

    Australia's Preserving Access to Digital Information (PADI) initiative receives government funding and the National Library of Australia assumes responsibility for PADI the following year.

  • Internet Archive logo

    Three web archiving projects are launched: Internet Archive founded by Brewster Kahle to archive the Web, the National Library of Australia's PANDORA Project (Preserving and Accessing Networked Documentary Resources of Australia), and the Royal Library of Sweden's Kulturarw Heritage Project.

  • The European Commission organizes the first multidisciplinary DLM-Forum to consider the preservation and authentication issues of machine readable data.

  • Preserving Digital Information: Final Report and Recommendations

    The Commission on Preservation & Access (CPA)/Research Library Group (RLG) publishes a seminal report on preserving digital information.

  • Electronic Records Research & Development conference in Ann Arbor

    Ann Arbor conference on Electronic Records Research & Development discusses the preservation of electronic records.

  • World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) copyright treaty protects databases as literary works and makes fair use optional.


  • The Department of Defense shifts from paper to electronic records.

  • A human error at Network Solutions causes the Domain Name System (DNS) table for .com and .net domains to become corrupted, making millions of systems unreachable.

  • HD-ROM is announced by Norsam Technologies.

  • BITNET is retired.

  • RealVideo introduced.

  • Rosetta

    Rosetta disk is announced.

  • The original version of the standard IEEE 802.11, the wireless LAN standard, is released, launching the WiFi phenomenon.

  • DVD

    DVD discs and players become commercially available.


  • NEDLIB publications

    European national libraries form the Networked European Deposit Library (NEDLIB) to maintain and preserve born-digital objects within the library system.

  • Time and Bits cover

    The Time and Bits: Managing Digital Continuity meeting is held at the Getty Center to discuss the future uses of digital technologies.

  • OCLC Web Characterization Project begins conducting an annual Web sample to analyze trends in size and content. The project ended in 2003.

  • MPEG-4 compression standard is released.

  • A collaboration between the Universities of Leeds, Cambridge and Oxford forms the CEDARS Project, whose broad objective is to explore and raise awareness of digital preservation issues.

  • National Archives and Records Administration Electronic Records Archives project begins.

  • Two Web domain-name groups, Network Solutions and the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, form the nonprofit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to oversee the domain-name system.

  • HTML 4.0 is released.

  • Microsoft Windows 98 is released.

  • 239 3.5" floppy disks are given to the Archaeology Data Service for restoration. Many files are corrupted, lack documentation, and were created using obsolete software. The data is recovered, and many insights about digital preservation come from the project.

  • Copyright symbol

    Digital Millennium Copyright Act is passed in the US, setting off a chain of confusion and controversy over its implications toward electronic media.

  • Extensible Markup Language (XML) standard is created.

  • US Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act retroactively extends the duration of copyright to the life of the author plus seventy years. It is unclear whether extended copyright term will aid preservation (a position taken by the MPAA) or hurt it (as argued by library and archival associations).

  • Into the future poster

    PBS broadcasts the CLIR film "Into the Future: On The Preservation Of Knowledge In The Electronic Age."

  • An RLG study finds that 2/3 of archives, libraries, museums, and other repositories had assumed responsibility for digital information, but 42% lacked the capacity to mount, read, and access some of this material.

  • MP-3 players for downloaded Internet audio appear.

  • Harvard University logo

    Harvard University launches the Library Digital Initiative (LDI) as a five-year program to develop the University's capacity to manage digital information.

  • Apple introduces the iMac, which revolutionized the PC industry with its design, along with some key features such as the inclusion of USB ports and the purposeful exclusion of a floppy drive.

  • AHDS publishes "A Strategic Policy Framework for Creating and Preserving Digital Collections" discussing the key stages in the life cycle of a digital resource, and how these are influenced by major stakeholders.

  • Encoded Archival Description (EAD) Version 1.0 is introduced.

  • LOCKSS logo

    Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe (LOCKSS) project is initiated to allow libraries to take physical custody of the electronic journals they purchase.


  • Charles Dollar writes Authentic Electronic Records: Strategies for Long-Term Access.

  • HTTP 1.1 is released.

  • Bluetooth logo

    Bluetooth, a short range wireless networking standard, is announced.

  • Google

    The Google search engine is officially launched.

  • Resource Description Framework (RDF) is introduced. RDF is intended to provide metadata interoperability across different communities.

  • Prism

    NSF funds Cornell's Project PRISM to develop policies and mechanisms for information integrity within a digital library.

  • The UK's Arts and Humanities Data Service (AHDS) begins "Preservation Management of Digital Materials," a project to develop a handbook giving guidance on digital preservation.

  • CAMiLEON logo

    Project CAMiLEON begins at the Universities of Michigan and Leeds to study the use of emulation as a digital preservation strategy.

  • JISC/NPO studies on the preservation of electronic materials are summarized in "Digital Culture: Maximising the Nation's Investment."

  • International Research on Permanent Authentic Records in Electronic Systems (InterPARES) project begins.


  • Nordic Web Archive becomes the Nordic National Libraries' forum in the fields of harvesting and archiving web documents.

  • A commercial Digital Video Recording (DVR) system is developed by TiVo, Inc. Reruns of Columbo can now be recorded digitally, saved, and viewed anytime.

  • Using emulation to preserve digital documents

    Jeff Rothenberg writes Using Emulation to Preserve Digital Documents.

  • Part one of JPEG 2000 is accepted as a full international standard.

  • Cornell project on Risk Management of Digital Information offers first assessment of the risks involved in migration for use in cultural institutions.

  • Due to adequate preparation, the Year 2000 bug causes few glitches, no catastrophes.

  • National Archives of Australia

    The National Archives of Australia announces that it will accept digital records into custody and provide for their ongoing access over time.

  • Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act is passed in the US "to facilitate the use of electronic records and signatures in interstate or foreign commerce."

  • XHTML 1.0 (transition to XML) becomes a Web standard.

  • RLG Diginews digital preservation logo

    RLG DigiNews begins extensive coverage of digital preservation using this symbol to indicate articles relating to digital preservation.

  • The Dutch Digital Preservation Testbed is established as a part of the Digitale Duurzaamheid programme with the goal of achieving lasting accessibility of digital government information.

  • DSpace logo

    MIT Libraries and Hewlett-Packard begin a joint project to build the DSpace digital repository.

  • OS X logo

    Macintosh OS X is released.

  • PubMed Central
    BioMed Central

    PubMed Central and BioMed Central are launched as digital archives of life sciences, biological, and medical journal literature.

  • Moving theory into practice

    Moving Theory into Practice, a digital imaging reference book for libraries and archives is published.

  • The US Library of Congress establishes the MINERVA Web Preservation Project to collect and preserve digital primary source materials.

  • NDIIP Logo

    The US Library of Congress receives funding for the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) to "provide a national focus on important policy, standards and technical components necessary to preserve digital content."


  • Windows XP is released.

  • Wayback Machine logo

    Internet Archive unveils the Wayback Machine allowing users to search archived versions of the Web, starting from 1996.

  • METS 1.1 schema is introduced as an XML standard for encoding descriptive, administrative, and structural metadata within a digital library.

  • Preservation Metadata for Digital Objects: A Review of the State of the Art is published by the OCLC/RLG Working Group on Preservation Metadata.

  • The Evidence in Hand cover

    The Evidence in Hand: Report of the Task Force on the Artifact in Library Collections explores the tension between physical and digital artifacts.

  • French government adopts a law that requires every French Web page to be officially archived.

  • The Austrian On-Line Archive (AOLA) is established to take periodic snapshots of Austrian Web space.

  • The Digital Preservation Coalition is established to foster joint action to address the urgent challenges of preserving digital resources in the UK and elsewhere.

  • Work begins on the MPEG 21 standard.

  • Safekept

    PADI begins Safekeeping Project aimed at building a distributed and permanent collection of digital preservation resources using this logo to indicate a permanent document:

  • After 21 years of selling hard drives, Quantum switches to higher-level storage products and services.

  • The Guggenheim's Variable Media Initiative asks digital artists to involve themselves in the preservation strategy for their own works.

  • Paradigma

    Paradigma Project begins collecting and preserving Norway's digital cultural heritage materials.

  • Maggie Jones and Neil Beagrie write Preservation Management of Digital Materials: A Handbook.

  • The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco rules that Napster violated copyright laws, and orders it to stop distributing copyrighted music.


  • US Department of Education indexing service PubSCIENCE is discontinued without warning, Web pages are removed.

  • e-depot

    Elsevier Science designated the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (KB), the National Library of the Netherlands, as the first official digital archive for Elsevier journals. IBM worked with the KB to create the technical infrastructure of the deposit service, called the e-Depot.

  • OAIS standards cover

    Initial Open Archival Information System (OAIS) standards are released, providing a framework for long-term digital information preservation and access, including terminology and concepts for describing and comparing archival architectures.

  • The Public Library of Science (PLoS), a science journal archive and alternative publisher, is launched.

  • The National Diet Library Web Archiving Project (WARP), begins to harvest and archive Japanese Web resources.

  • EAD Version 2002 becomes available.

  • PRONOM, a database of file formats, and a supporting library of software products is released. The collection aims at helping with the problem of software obsolescence.

  • Microsoft addresses a security vulnerability in Internet Explorer's code for the gopher protocol by turning support for gopher off by default, thereby rendering most remaining gopher sites inaccessible to the majority of Internet users.

  • National Information Standards Organization (NISO) Technical Metadata for Digital Still Images standards released.

  • 75% of journals are online in Science Citation Index®.

  • A report by CLIR estimates that the average Web page has a life span of 44 days.

  • QuickTime 6.0 is released.

  • Trusted Digital Repositories: Attributes and Responsibilities, and Preservation Metadata & the OAIS Information Model, A Metadata Framework to Support the Preservation of Digital Objects are both published by RLG/OCLC.

  • USB device

    Universal Serial Bus 2.0 (USB) is released. Building on USB 1.0 introduced in 1995, this serial bus can connect up to 127 devices, supports speeds of up to 480Mbps, allows plug-and-play and hot-swapping.

  • Swedish government issues a decree authorizing the Royal Library to collect Swedish websites and to allow the public access within the library premises.

  • OCLC launches its Digital Archive as a production service.

  • The Sarbanes-Oxley Act is signed into law. "The goal of the act was to protect investors by improving the accuracy and reliability of corporate disclosures." The law requires publicly traded companies to closely monitor electronic and paper document retention and imposes criminal sanctions for the destruction or loss of certain electronic records.

  • MPEG 7 standard for description and search of audio and visual content is released.

  • An initiative known as PDF/A is undertaken to develop an international standard that defines the use of the Portable Document Format (PDF) for archiving and preserving documents.

  • DVD players outsell VCRs.


  • The US patent on the LZW compression algorithm expires, ending restrictions on the use of GIF files. Despite its technical superiority and status as an international standard, PNG has not displaced GIF as the preferred file format for lossless color images on the Web.

  • double

    The amount of information transmitted globally over the Internet is projected to double each year.

  • OCLC and RLG Announce the Formation of PREMIS, the PREservation Metadata: Implementation Strategies working group, to address practical aspects of implementing preservation metadata in digital preservation systems.

  • The third WiFi modulation standard, 802.11g, is ratified. Consumers products and WiFi "hotspots" proliferate.

  • The estimated annual production of materials in Web-ready formats is projected to be "too large to estimate."

  • RLG and the US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) create a task force to produce certification requirements for digital information repositories.

  • JHOVE logo

    A pre-release version of JHOVE, a tool to automate the validation of file formats, becomes available. Accurate file format information will greatly facilitate the management of files in digital repositories.

  • A British Library study predicts that by 2007 at least 50% of all theses and dissertations will be submitted digitally.

  • PLOS Biology screenshot

    PLoS Biology, the Public Library of Science's first open-access journal, is launched.

  • UNESCO releases "Guidelines for the Preservation of Digital Heritage."

  • Annual publication rates of electronic-only formats grow faster than paper-only formats.

  • FEDORA logo

    Flexible Extensible Digital Object and Repository Architecture (FEDORA) version 1.0 is launched by the University of Virginia and Cornell University.

  • National Academy of Science releases an assessment of the US National Archives & Records Administration's proposed digital archiving plan.

  • Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher publishes her archives online, a first in politics.


  • DCC logo

    The UK Digital Curation Centre (DCC) is launched.

  • The University of North Texas Libraries and the U.S. Government Printing Office, as part of the Federal Depository Library Program, creates the CyberCemetery to "provide permanent public access to the Web sites and publications of defunct U.S. government agencies and commissions."

  • Apple's family of personal music players, the iPod, dominates the market with over 5.7 million units sold since their debut in late 2001.

  • design

    The US National Archives Administration begins building the infrastructure for its Electronic Records Archive (ERA) by awarding one-year design competition contracts to Lockheed Martin and the Harris Corporation to develop the best technological solution for preserving digital information across time and space.

  • 55% of adult internet users have broadband at home or work.

  • The Government of New Zealand dedicates $24 million to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa to “to ward off ‘digital amnesia’, and protect New Zealand's documentary heritage for future generations.”

  • GPO logo

    The GPO convened a group of experts in March to develop minimum requirements for digitizing and preserving the federal depository library's legacy collection.

  • Final results delivered from PANIC Project, which was one of the first projects to incorporate the use of web services for the preservation function.

  • The NITLE Blog Census, begun in May 2003 in order to characterize the burgeoning blogshere, estimates the presence of 1,208,351 active blogs in April 2004.

  • The California Digital Library releases the report: "Evaluating Methods for Gathering and Persistently Managing Web-based Materials."

  • ISO logo

    The International Organization for Standardization publishes: ISO 15836:2003, Information and Documentation, the Dublin Core Metadata Element Set.

  • AGORA (Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture) is launched providing students and scientists in some of the world's poorest countries with free access to 400 journals in agriculture and related sciences.

  • Google begins work with the libraries of Harvard, Stanford, the University of Michigan, and the University of Oxford as well as The New York Public Library to digitize books from their collections and make them searchable in Google.


  • A USB drive shaped like a piece of sushi

    USB Flash Drives flourish. The solid state, inexpensive, pocketable storage media are taking all kinds of shapes and sizes (pens, watches, little fuzzy creatures, and even sushi).

  • Six institutions receive more than $1.9 million in grants in the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP) to digitize early 20th century newspapers in order to create a Web accessible historical resource.

  • The first meeting for the eight institutions making up the formal NDIIPP partnership is held at the Library of Congress in January 2005.

  • ESPIDA logo

    eSPIDA is launched. Funded by JISC, eSPIDA (An Effective Strategic Model for the Preservation and Disposal of Institutional Assets) adopts a holistic approach to "take digital preservation on to the next phase sustainable institutional implementation."


  • Planets logo

    The Planets project is launched.

  • JISC commences Repositories and Preservation Programme funding initiatives to develop the Information Environment supporting digital repositories and preservation.

  • The National Library of Australia and the Australian Partnership for Sustainable Repositories develop AONS, a system which automatically monitors the file formats of digital resources in a repository.

  • Global Digital Format Registry

    Harvard University Library and OCLC join forces to open the GDFR, providing distributed services to store, discover, and deliver representation information about digital formats.

  • American Counsel of Learned Societies Commission on Cyberinfrastructure in the Humanities and Social Sciences releases "Our Cultural Commonwealth" report (PDF).

  • original Twitter logo

    Twitter is founded, bringing forth a new social networking tool based on brief updates, or tweets.




  • OAIS Version 2 Candidate is released by the Mission Operations and Information Management Services Area (MOIMS) of CCSDS.

  • World Digital Library

    The World Digital Library is launched.

  • The UDFR, a format registry that will eventually merge PRONOM and the Global Digital Format Registry, is announced.

  • DuraSpace logo

    Fedora and dSpace launch DuraSpace.

  • NDIIPP launches a pilot program to test cloud technologies for preserving digital content using DuraCloud.

  • Windows 7 logo

    Windows 7 released.

  • Old television
    New television

    All Television broadcasting in the U.S. went digital by June 12, 2009.


  • The first national Preservation Week is celebrated. Sponsors include the Library of Congress, Society of American Archivists, and Association for Library Collections and Technical Services, and Institute of Museum and Library Services, among others.

  • PADI logo

    As of July 2010 PADI is no longer updated.

  • JISC Digital Preservation Listserv has been in use for 10 years.

  • The NSF funded Blue Ribbon Taskforce on Sustainable Digital Preservation and Access released its Final Report.

  • Memento, a software tool that allows users to easily browse older versions of websites, wins the 2010 Digital Preservation Award from the Library of Congress. "The Memento architecture means you no longer need to search archives or go to a special website to recover earlier versions of pages."

  • iPad

    First iPad released.

  • original Twitter logo

    Library of Congress acquires Twitter Archives.



  • NDIIP develops Personal Digital Archiving Day Kit to empower libraries to reach out to the public regarding personal digital information.

  • One year after the National Science Foundation begins requiring data management plans, the DataUp project is born to help researchers manage, archive, and share data.

  • New and improved version of the OAIS standard released.

  • PLANETS wins the DPC Award for Research and Innovation for permananently changing the digital preservation landscape by "by shifting the focus to practical, sustainable solutions that are soundly supported by practice-driven research."



  •  DataUp tool merges with data sharing platform, DASH.