Microfiche, whilst being for a long time the industry standard for storing a bulk amount of larger scale documents such as drawings and blueprints, have been obsolete for a while now. Despite this, they have kept a certain fondness amongst many who have used them for years and years and even with relative newcomers. This might be something to do with the retro value of them or the fact that you’re actually looking at something that innovated by making something considerably smaller when things were very big indeed.
To this day, microfiche are still widely used and, as such, are still a perfectly viable storage method as they hold out pretty well in terms of storage and usability, though they do lack some of the modern upsides that we have become accustomed to. The problem that lies with the humble microfiche is that they can’t easily be shared among other people, they can’t be printed as such and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to view them. The latter point is due to the vast majority of people moving away from the microfiche and onto more modern alternatives such as digital file formats with which you can do pretty much whatever you like with the fiche images. This means that the machines have become niche items that are increasingly hard to find, operate, or even rent, never mind the cost of finding parts for older machines, and as such the prices rise considerably and you can face spending up to £15,000 on a microfiche reader for a particularly good one.
The alternative is microfiche conversion to digital. I’m sure a lot of the purists are not fans of the idea of this, but the fact is that progress and moving forward is going to catch up with the standard microfiche reader sooner rather than later even more so than it already has. Microfiche readers are, to be frank, obsolete, and have been for quite some time.
Microfiche conversion is considerably cheaper than the purchase price of a microfiche reader, whether you have 1 or 1000 microfiche to use, the results are more flexible, you often will get clearer results and the files are now also available to be indexed onto your computer in any format and by any name that you wish. This could be by the project name the file is from, the date or a reference number, whatever makes it easier to find them when you need them.
Within this you are also able to edit the files in image editing software, produce duplicates, print the files and email them between colleagues. The flexibility of microfiche conversion above the standard way of doing it is quite considerable.
As intriguing as microfiche are and as quirky and retro as they may seem to many, when all is said and done they are obsolete and have been replaced by a superior format that is doing the microfiche’s job better than the microfiche can do. Microfiche were created to save space and time and have been superseded. So with microfiche conversion you would, in effect, be getting the microfiche of the future. And with all the perks that come with it, modernization might not be such a bad thing.