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Digital Data Written in Stone

The "Digital Rosetta Stone" would store data and give wireless access to it for 1000 years

3 min read
Digital Data Written in Stone

17 June 2009—What do data archivists have in common with monarch butterflies, salmon, and most geese? They are always preparing for their next migration. From magnetic tape through hard disks, floppy disks, CDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray, digital data formats change periodically, forcing archivists to migrate their data before obsolescence or end-of-lifetime sets in. But now Tadahiro Kuroda, a research engineer and professor at Keio University, in Yokohama, Japan, and his team have come up with a device that could put an end to this recurring—not to mention costly—upheaval in data preservation by maintaining the data safely in an unchanging format that’s predicted to last 1000 years.

The device is a permanent memory system based on semiconductor technology. The prototype consists of four stacked 300-millimeter silicon wafers incorporating 2.5 terabits, (320 gigabytes), of data encoded on read-only memory and fabricated using a 45-nanometer complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) process, together with a separate data reader. Data is written on the chips using an electron beam, and the package is sealed with silicon-based film to prevent erosion.

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The Transistor at 75

The past, present, and future of the modern world’s most important invention

2 min read
A photo of a birthday cake with 75 written on it.
Lisa Sheehan

Seventy-five years is a long time. It’s so long that most of us don’t remember a time before the transistor, and long enough for many engineers to have devoted entire careers to its use and development. In honor of this most important of technological achievements, this issue’s package of articles explores the transistor’s historical journey and potential future.

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