Ten years ago, accessing information through technology was no easy task. You would turn on your Windows 95 machine and wait a few minutes before the familiar electronic “ta-da” sound of the computer greeted you to the system’s main screen. Once there, you would have to connect to the Internet, suffering through the painful static of your computer’s dial-up system.
Thanks to advancing technology, we can now access the Internet in almost complete silence, making those pings and pongs a thing of the past. But for the founders of the Museum of Endangered Sounds (www.savethesounds.info), Phil Hadad, Marybeth Ledesma and Greg Elwood, these sounds offer a sense of nostalgia and should be preserved.
“We want it to be a form of nostalgia and education, to preserve the last breaths of dying technologies and educate the next generations about what old technologies used to sound like,” said Brendan Chilcutt, the fictional frontman of the Museum of Endangered Sounds. Chilcutt combines the characteristics of Hadad, Ledesma and Elwood and answers all questions to guests on the Website, shadowing one or more of the three actual creators behind the scenes.
Since founding the online museum in January 2012, the team has collected a number of common sounds of our past, from the bleeps of a Pac Man game, to the ring of a bulky Nokia cell phone, to the static of an old television. Chilcutt said fans of the Website submit most of the sounds, while the team works to store and display these sounds online.
“Right now, we have 27 sounds in the museum, but considering everyone’s schedules and the fact that we all live in different states now, it will take a while to accomplish our list of sounds. But we are very motivated and excited to continue the museum for as long as we can,” said Chilcutt.
But the sounds of technology are not the only ones getting preserved. At the University of Utah, volunteers can submit recordings of sounds found in nature to contribute to the J. Willard Marriott Library’s Western Sound Archive (www.westernsoundscape.org). Here, you can access hundreds of recordings of sounds of animals and ambient noise recorded in the western regions of the United States, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
But in terms of recording the sounds of the early days of technology, the Museum of Endangered Sounds is one of a kind.
And for me, browsing the Website did exactly what the makers intended—it reminded me of all those annoying yet unforgettable sounds of my past. As a child of the 1990s, I especially loved reliving the beeps of the Tamagotchi, that pocket-sized virtual pet that annoyingly told you when it wanted attention.
Museum of Endangered Sounds