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In the Nitrate Vault (photo by Bill Newcott)

In the Nitrate Vault (photo by Bill Newcott)

I recently ventured into the hollowed-out Virginia mountain where the Library of Congress keeps copies of every movie, TV show, and sound recording that’s submitted for copyright. Officially, it’s called the the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center.

I call it Heaven.

Here are stored, in specially built vaults, the highly explosive nitrate prints of films made prior to the 1950s…historic videotapes, including the first-ever color broadcast…vinyl and shellac discs dating back to the days of Edison… and in a lead-lined vault that once housed America’s emergency money supply, prints of every single movie you can name from the past 100 years.

And yes, there really is a special room where custom-made robots do nothing but watch old TV shows, 24 hours a day.

Come along with me on this remarkable journey through time, led by the most dedicated bunch of movie/TV/music enthusiasts you’ve ever met.

 

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