Software is forever

Library archives are not just about books, of course, especially in Silicon Valley.

“In our world, software has become a vital medium of communication, entertainment and education,” said University Librarian MICHAEL KELLER.

In that spirit, Stanford University Libraries is partnering with several federal agencies to preserve one of the world’s largest pristine collections of software, the 15,000 software titles in the Stephen M. Cabrinety Collection in the History of Microcomputing held by the Libraries.

The Libraries will work with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to preserve the collection. Funded by the National Software Reference Laboratory (NSRL), Stanford and NIST will spend two years digitally preserving the 15,000 software titles.

The Cabrinety Collection includes titles from virtually all of the major microcomputer platforms, including home computer and video game consoles. The collection was assembled by STEPHEN M. CABRINETY, who began collecting software as a teenager and maintained an intensive interest in computer history throughout his life. Cabrinety was director of development of Superior Software Inc.  and founder of  the Computer History Institute for the Preservation of Software. He died in 1995, and Stanford acquired the entire collection as a gift from the Cabrinety family in 1998.

The work of capturing disk images ­– exact copies of the data on the original software media – will proceed as a cross-country collaboration between the Stanford University Libraries and NIST. At Stanford, Special Collections staff will catalog and prepare the materials for shipment to the NSRL forensics lab in Gaithersburg, Md. The software disk images, associated digital photography of box covers, manuals and inserts will then be sent to Stanford for long-term preservation in the Stanford Digital Repository.