Remember the whir of a rewinding tape? The spin of a rotary dial? Maybe you’re younger, and the sounds that bring you back are more modern: the Nokia ringtone, or that high pitched ICQ notification (half greeting, half chirp). These sounds, once common to the point of saturation, have slowly faded away with the advent of quieter devices. And while no one is advocating for a return to a time where it took three minutes, a dial tone, and various beeps and boops before you could connect your dial up internet, these sounds deserve a better end than complete extinction.
If reading this has given you a sudden nostalgia for the start-up chime of your old PC, be glad for the existence of the online Museum of Endangered Sounds. This project, developed in early 2012 by “Brendan Chilcutt” a fictional character created by Phil Hadad, Marybeth Ledesma and Greg Elwood, three advertising students at Virginia Commonwealth Universityseeks to catalogue and preserve these increasingly obscure sounds.
On his site, Chilcutt says “Imagine a world where we never again hear the symphonic startup of a Windows 95 machine. Imagine generations of children unacquainted with the chattering of angels lodged deep within the recesses of an old cathode ray tube TV. And when the entire world has adopted devices with sleek, silent touch interfaces, where will we turn for the sound of fingers striking QWERTY keypads? Tell me that. And tell me: Who will play my GameBoy when I’m gone?”
As is turns out, Chilcutt even has well thought-out “ten year plan to complete the data collection phase by the year 2015, and spend the next seven years developing the proper markup language to reinterpret the sounds as a binary composition.”
So if you have suggestions, visit the Museum of Endangered Sounds, and make sure to submit a sound for preservation!