If you want to leave a video or audio message in a time capsule, what medium should you choose? Will people of the future be able to listen to your CD or your mp3? Will the folks of 100 years or even just 10 years hence be able to find a DVD player? Do you even have a DVD player today?
Four students from Eastern Connecticut State University recently learned about this time capsule problem the hard way. Last week two roommates discovered a shoe box capsule while rummaging around their new dorm. But they couldn’t find a tape player that will play the cassette tape included with it.
Hidden behind a panel under the kitchen sink, the time capsule is dated December 18th, 2001, which is perhaps notable if only because it was just three months after the September 11th attacks.
From NBC Connecticut:
The time capsule was in a shoe box. Dust covered it, as the area hadn’t been opened in nearly 14 years.
Inside the box was an old blue Wal-Mart bag, covering the findings. There was also a chore list with the names of 4 underclassman who lived in the dorm room. The list read “Liz, Michelle, Becca and Karen.”
Aside from the Nerds candies and other trinkets, the most intriguing item by far was the cassette, but the four college students don’t have any way to play it. “I want to know mostly what’s in that cassette because that’s been keeping me up,” one of the college kids told NBC Connecticut.
It’s a common problem that time capsule discoverers face. And most people who create time capsules are aware that people of the future may not have any way to hear their message. The 1958 time capsule that was recently discovered at a former mental hospital in Indiana even addressed the problem head on in its film:
When the psychiatrists of the future open this time capsule, only they will be able to tell how well we’ve solved our treatment problems, not only today but in the future. We are sincerely appreciative...
...they’ll have cameras at that time that they can run this film.
Despite the break-up in audio, they appear to be saying that they hope future generations will have the equipment to play their film. Thankfully, someone did. Not only that, but they were able to share it with the world by digitising the film and uploading it to YouTube.
The college students in Connecticut are getting help from their school to track down the four women who put together the time capsule in 2001. So far they’ve found two of the four time capsule creators.
Hopefully the school can also help them find a cassette player.
Screenshot of the cassette via NBC Connecticut
This article originally appeared on Paleofuture, a Gizmodo blog looking into the future that never was