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In 1986, the 900th anniversary of the original Domesday Book, the BBC coordinated a project to document modern Britain. This was claimed to be data to last for the next thousand years.

Data was compiled from myriad nationwide school projects. The results were published as the Domesday Discs. These were video disks in Laservision LVROM format.

Is there any way of reading these disks on modern equipment?

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    You might want to simply generalize your question to reading laserdisc lvrom discs... – Kuba Tyszko May 24 '16 at 9:40
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Reading up on various preservation efforts, including the Center for Computing History's, and information collected on Andy Finney's and Adrian Graham's sites, it appears that the most difficult part would be physically reading the disks — the required drives were built in limited quantities.

If you have one of the drives, it might be possible to connect it to a SCSI HBA and read from it that way (although none of this counts as "modern equipment"). Previous preservation efforts used the original hardware though so I don't know how feasible this is.

Once you have the data from the drives, it is possible to extract the information contained therein. The Centre for Computing History did it, and the CAMiLEON project also wrote an emulator (a descendant of which is now available). A recent Hackaday article summarizes current efforts by the Domesday86.com project.

It's probably easier to use the Centre for Computing History's resources and the BBC's Domesday Reloaded site (archived on the Internet Archives)!

  • The BBC's Domesday site is now dead, unfortunately. – JeremyP Jul 31 '18 at 15:44
  • Thanks for pointing that out @JeremyP. What a shame... I’ll replace the link with a pointer to IA (although that’s a pale substitute). – Stephen Kitt Jul 31 '18 at 15:48
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It is possible to read the discs using the original Philips player and connecting it to a PC but it requires a low level SCSI driver to be written as the communication is so slow and would time out using the standard comms.

The other option is to look at the Domesday86.com project that is trying to sample the discs using a standard laserdisc player by recording the laser direct and then decode the pits back into images / audio / data using some software (early days from what I can tell but they have images).

The emulator for the CAMiLEON project is on GitHub but is incomplete as it requires frame grabs and data dumps from the discs. It will also only work on the Domesday discs. It won't work on any of the other discs that were produced for the system.

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