The Best Ways to Digitize Old Photos, Tapes and Discs So Your Memories Live On

If my son asked me today to see video of my late grandfather, whose name he bears, I’d be in trouble.

First, I’d have to locate the VHS tapes. Then I’d have to hunt down a gray-market VCR. ($500 and up for defunct technology!) Then I’d have to meet in some other dark alley for a converter box to hook it up to my fancy smart TV. Then I’d have to hope that, back in 1996, someone was kind and did in fact rewind.

Luckily, my 3-year-old only asks for “Dora the Explorer.”

Technology allows us to preserve the stories of people who die—assuming the technology doesn’t die, too.

The idea of old photos and videos being lost in obsolete media formats was something I thought about a lot as I was producing “E-Ternal: A Tech Quest to ‘Live’ Forever,” a documentary about death and technology.

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