The sweet sounds of obsolescence

Jun 5, 2012

“Beep, beep, beep,” says the Touch-Tone phone.

“Imagine a world where we never again hear the symphonic startup of a Windows 95 machine….[or] the textured rattle and hum of a VHS tape being sucked into the womb of a 1983 JVC HR-7100 VCR.” It’s that fear of audio extinction that led Chatanooga State Community College student Brendan Chilcutt to start The Museum of Endangered Sounds, a website that preserves and archives those beloved electronic and technological noises from our (or our children’s) childhood.

As technology advances and one device is discarded for another, the beeps, clicks and whirrs that once punctuated our lives are being silenced forever. Longing for the tuneful “beep-beep-beep” of a Touch-Tone phone? The jubilant voice of AOL telling you “You’ve got mail!”? These and other once-familiar noises are collected on Chilcott’s site, the first phase in a ten-year plan to archive those disappearing sounds and then translate them into binary code.

An ambitious project for one person – which, as it turns out, Chilcutt is not. Brendan Chilcutt (named for former Houston Rockets forward Pete Chilcutt) is the combined alter-ego of three Virginia Commonwealth University Brand Center graduate students — the brain trust behind the Museum of Endangered Sounds. What sounds do you miss from your childhood?


<b.Phil Hadad, one of the creators of The Museum of Endangered Sounds

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