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Bayeux Tapestry tech specs calculated

Bayeux Tapestry tech specs calculated

The tapestry has a larger capacity than a floppy disk, and its data can't be wiped by magnets either.

The Bayeux Tapestry has been compared against modern methods of data storage in a somewhat tongue-in-cheek but nonetheless interesting article on The Register.

By using known facts about the 934-year-old bit of cloth's 50,000in2+ surface area, length and the number of threads, the entire tapestry was converted into an 8-bit 47dpi image. On this basis, the article claims the tapestry contains 2.429MB of information.

Given that it took ten years to complete, this equates to a write speed of just 2.168 bytes an hour to depict the whole story surrounding the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

However, the read speed (via the Mk I human eyeball) is rather quicker. 'The read rate, going by the length of the taped commentary you hear as you walk along the length of the tapestry for 30 minutes, is 4.68MB an hour per person,' says the site.

This, according to the article, increases to 351MB per hour based on the fact that 75 people could possibly be reading it at the same time.

This might be a peculiar way of looking at data storage, but we doubt any mainstream storage devices that we use today would still be functioning after nearly a millennium of use.

Can you think of other ways of storing data for long periods of time? Let us know in the forums.

21 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
Puzzu 28th March 2011, 12:49 Quote
There are no other ways of long term data storage.

I mean how may people here can still retrieve data from a 3.5" floppy let alone a 5.25"

or how many of us still have a working VHS player let alone a Betamax unit?

unless the data storage medium has a way of projecting the information visually, paper in it's multitude of forms is the only way to store long term.

Ipads, Kindles may stand the test of time ,but will you still be able to power up the unit in 5 years let alone 900 years time?
TheLegendJoe 28th March 2011, 13:03 Quote
You could do something on the same material, but use a GIANT (or an array of many) QR codes, that would hold allot of data and could have a significantly faster read and write time :P The down side being instead of a tape player guiding you through you'd need something that can still scan QR codes in 500 years time... I get the feeling people will have noooo idea what one it by then :)
Tattysnuc 28th March 2011, 13:08 Quote
just one question comes to mind..... WHY?????

Next bulletin... Computers today are FASTER than computers from 20 years ago?

Please
mpr 28th March 2011, 14:00 Quote
On fault here is that there are multiple interpritations... While we "know" the history of the battle, the story of the shroud may have encompassed multiple versions...
Paradigm Shifter 28th March 2011, 14:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Puzzu
There are no other ways of long term data storage.

I mean how may people here can still retrieve data from a 3.5" floppy let alone a 5.25"
That would be me. :D
Quote:
Originally Posted by Puzzu
or how many of us still have a working VHS player let alone a Betamax unit?
Me again! :)

Along with a 78 record player, an 8-track tape player (to be fair, I don't know if this one still works) and cassette decks.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Puzzu
unless the data storage medium has a way of projecting the information visually, paper in it's multitude of forms is the only way to store long term.
Agreed. That or the system of passing knowledge down by word of mouth. No, I don't mean in the rumour-monger manner, but that tribal system of it's one persons job to remember all the tribal history.

Well, you could encode information in the DNA of an organism with very efficient error-checking systems. Provided the organism can reproduce, of course.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Puzzu
Ipads, Kindles may stand the test of time ,but will you still be able to power up the unit in 5 years let alone 900 years time?
Doubt it. ;) Electronics isn't designed to last forever. Look at SSDs - every time they process shrink their expected lifespan drops like a rock.
azazel1024 28th March 2011, 14:41 Quote
Seriously? I know it was semi-tounge in cheek, but seriously? I hope this wasn't an amusing attempt at claiming how slow data creation was back then. Cause I got news, monk copiests could probably manage more like 30-50 bytes per minute or 1.8-3KB/hr. Figure 5-8 words per minutes with an average length of 6 letters, 1 byte per letter. Honestly, a fast writer can probably manage faster than that (my handwritting isn't all that speedy, but I can type about 50wpm :D)
SMIFFYDUDE 28th March 2011, 16:43 Quote
It's good at long term data storage but..... Can it run Crysis?
Blarte 28th March 2011, 17:08 Quote
According to that gentleman Stephen Fry and the QI team its an Embroidery not a tapestry?
Bauul 28th March 2011, 18:13 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by azazel1024
Seriously? I know it was semi-tounge in cheek, but seriously? I hope this wasn't an amusing attempt at claiming how slow data creation was back then. Cause I got news, monk copiests could probably manage more like 30-50 bytes per minute or 1.8-3KB/hr. Figure 5-8 words per minutes with an average length of 6 letters, 1 byte per letter. Honestly, a fast writer can probably manage faster than that (my handwritting isn't all that speedy, but I can type about 50wpm :D)

Erm, what? For a stat, the Bayeux Tapestry is picture based, not words. And secondly: it's an amusing piece of research, done for fun. I don't think they're trying to make a point about data storage speeds in the 11th century.

Because that's stupid.
Sloth 28th March 2011, 18:24 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Puzzu
There are no other ways of long term data storage.

I mean how may people here can still retrieve data from a 3.5" floppy let alone a 5.25"

or how many of us still have a working VHS player let alone a Betamax unit?

unless the data storage medium has a way of projecting the information visually, paper in it's multitude of forms is the only way to store long term.

Ipads, Kindles may stand the test of time ,but will you still be able to power up the unit in 5 years let alone 900 years time?
The difference with modern data storage techniques is that the data isn't locked to any one device. You can readily retrieve and transfer the data before the medium it's currently stored on goes out of date. So while yes, your iPad or Kindle will fail in just a couple decades, your data doesn't have to go down with it.
MurdocksFace 28th March 2011, 19:18 Quote
Have The Register contacted the museum where it's kept so they can add it to the tour guides' information? It's an amusing bit of information to keep in one's own long-term storage.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SMIFFYDUDE
It's good at long term data storage but... Can it run Crysis?
No, but it shows a good depiction of the Crysis alpha, tried IRL nearly a thousand years ago :D
Andy Mc 28th March 2011, 22:18 Quote
[QUOTE=Puzzu]how many of us still have a working VHS player let alone a Betamax unit?

QUOTE]

My dad has both still, but he does not use either. And I've still got a VHS player that gets a little bit of use, mostly from playing childrens videos for my 1 year old. I'd rarther he killed the VHS player than the DVD player.
Puzzu 29th March 2011, 01:24 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sloth
The difference with modern data storage techniques is that the data isn't locked to any one device. You can readily retrieve and transfer the data before the medium it's currently stored on goes out of date. So while yes, your iPad or Kindle will fail in just a couple decades, your data doesn't have to go down with it.

That is true as long as the data is transfered to another medium before the current version goes out of date.

That is a big ask, you may backup your own data from one medium to another over your own life, but who is to say will continue that one after your life time?
Flibblebot 29th March 2011, 05:18 Quote
I think we're forgetting the advanced specs here. For example, since more than one person worked on the tapestry at the same time, it was effectively a multithreaded application.



Sorry. I'll get my coat :D
mclean007 29th March 2011, 09:17 Quote
That's (the popular misinterpretation of) Moore's law out the window then. If they could do 2.16 bytes/hr (.0006 bytes/s = 6x10^-10 MB/s) 934 years ago, then a doubling of power every 18 months would put us at 2^622 times as fast as that now, which is 10^178 MB/s, that's 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 MB/s. Just a tiny fraction more than the 300 or so MB/s we can manage with modern SSDs.

:D
mclean007 29th March 2011, 09:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mclean007
That's (the popular misinterpretation of) Moore's law out the window then. If they could do 2.16 bytes/hr (.0006 bytes/s = 6x10^-10 MB/s) 934 years ago, then a doubling of power every 18 months would put us at 2^622 times as fast as that now, which is 10^178 MB/s, that's 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 MB/s. Just a tiny fraction more than the 300 or so MB/s we can manage with modern SSDs.

:D
I'll put that number in perspective - given there are believed to be around 10^80 atoms in the universe, 10^178 MB is enough to write a million million terabytes of data about every atom in the universe onto every atom in the universe. And (ignoring the problems with lightspeed and the finite lower limit on information quanta) if data write speed had doubled every 18 months since the Bayeux Tapestry was produced, we'd be able to do that IN ONE SECOND.
Flibblebot 29th March 2011, 09:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mclean007
That's (the popular misinterpretation of) Moore's law out the window then. If they could do 2.16 bytes/hr (.0006 bytes/s = 6x10^-10 MB/s) 934 years ago, then a doubling of power every 18 months would put us at 2^622 times as fast as that now, which is 10^178 MB/s, that's 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 MB/s. Just a tiny fraction more than the 300 or so MB/s we can manage with modern SSDs.

:D
With the one minor problem that Gordon Moore didn't come up with his law until 888 years after the tapestry was completed... ;)
mclean007 29th March 2011, 10:33 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flibblebot
With the one minor problem that Gordon Moore didn't come up with his law until 888 years after the tapestry was completed... ;)
Well yes, that and the fact that I'm facetiously referring to the misinterpretation of the law as predicting a doubling of power (or in this case data transfer rate), whereas in fact it refers to transistor density on integrated circuits, which weren't invented until 872 years after the tapestry ;)
Yoy0YO 29th March 2011, 10:39 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blarte
According to that gentleman Stephen Fry and the QI team its an Embroidery not a tapestry?

I second this comment!
greypilgers 29th March 2011, 12:51 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mclean007
I'll put that number in perspective - given there are believed to be around 10^80 atoms in the universe, 10^178 MB is enough to write a million million terabytes of data about every atom in the universe onto every atom in the universe. And (ignoring the problems with lightspeed and the finite lower limit on information quanta) if data write speed had doubled every 18 months since the Bayeux Tapestry was produced, we'd be able to do that IN ONE SECOND.

Ha ha ha! You don't have pointy ears and funny coloured blood, do you?

"For God's Sakes Jim, I'm a Doctor - Not a man o' medicine!!!"
mclean007 29th March 2011, 13:26 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by greypilgers
Ha ha ha! You don't have pointy ears and funny coloured blood, do you?
It's illogical that you could possibly know that about me without undertaking some kind of covert surveillance operation.
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