Giving Thanks...for Microfilm

Unless you work in this industry – and even then – microfilm is likely not often mentioned around family dinners on Thanksgiving Day. But that’s not to say we aren’t indeed thankful for our favorite storage medium. Just think of all the history and genealogy enriching people’s lives that is preserved in microfilm. And since it seldom gets the thanks it deserves, we’d like to take this opportunity to fill you in on everything you may have never known (or even wondered) about microfilm.

It’s almost 200 years old
The earliest microforms are attributed to John Benjamin Dancer, an English scientist who experimented with microphotographs as early as 1839.

Eastman Kodak brought microfilm into commercial use
Having bought the intellectual property of New York banker George McCarthy, Kodak first marketed a “checkograph” machine (used to make permanent file copies of bank records) in 1925.

Microfilm played a role in World War II
Microphotography was used for espionage and delivering classified messages during World War II. Additionally, with the threat of mass destruction, many countries started large-scale microfilming projects to preserve important records, archives and collections.

Microfilm has a lifespan of 500 years
Properly stored, microfilm can last for five centuries.

Microfilm is a microform
Though the most commonly used term is microfilm, microforms also include microfiche and the lesser known aperture cards. And there are various sub-types of each.

Microfilm is made from…
Microfilm requires a plastic support, comprised of either a nitrate, acetate or polyester. And the images are created by the use of a silver-gelatin emulsion. (Ask your chemist friends?)

Microfilm images can’t be manipulated…
You can try cutting and splicing, but you won’t get past any trained eye. The fact that microfilmed images can’t be compromised is another reason it’s so useful for official documents.

…but they can be converted to digital
One of the primary advantages of today’s microfilm readers is the ability to scan and transfer microforms into digital images, allowing you to safely keep originals on microfilm.

Microfilm is still being produced (and supported) today
Yep, people still use it, and as long as there’s demand, there will be companies to fill that demand. And as long as they do (and probably longer), eImageData will be here to offer you the best-in-class research and scanning devices on the market.

So thank you to our customers and to the microfilm that brings us together at this, and every other time of year!

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