The Origin of Media Species

The Origin of Media Species is a book based on an extensive research of digital media formats, discontinued or still in use, containing their main technical specifications, such as dimensions, manufacturers, storage capacity, date of market introduction and extinction, from the first machine-read devices, such as punch cards, to the popularization of data centers and storage services in the cloud. All the formats are illustrated in a 1:1 scale.

The publication is presented as a catalog, where an evolutionary parallel is drawn with the media formats, in "technological phylums", or groupings by similarities referring to how information is stored (by magnetism or optical reading, for example). They are presented in chronological order, and each format is classified according to its state of preservation (higher or lower risk of the data becoming inaccessible).

The main objective was to propose a reflection on memory and oblivion in the digital age, by presenting a historical panorama of the planned obsolescence that permeates the incessant and exponential technological progress, the chaos of compatibility issues needed to access digital information and the small concern or inviability of preserving discontinued formats, creating a new relationship between individuals and the continuous and imminent possibility of permanent losses.

Graduation Project, 2016

The scale of the storage capacity chart is 1 mm2 = 1 MB. In this scale, formats range
from 0.000008 mm2 to 16000000 mm2 (or 16 m2). Formats smaller than 500 KB or 0.5 mm2
were not represented graphically as they would be too small for visualization.

A ruler was inserted in the footer of the left page for scaling, as well as a 5 mm grid to
optimize the comparison between the proportions of the graph area and the
physical dimensions of the media format.

As a complement to the main publication, a small repository was
created with selected texts that served as reference and basis for the project.

Also included are a A0 size poster with the full-scale illustrations of various
formats presented in the main publication and a measuring tape for
visualizing graphs that exceed the size of the book.

Special thanks to:

Giselle Beiguelman
Lívia Takemura
The Museum of Obsolete Media –

Photography by Nino Andrés

Caio Reis, 2018