The Digital Rosetta Stone

What is this?

This is a modern version of the Rosetta Stone: multiple versions of the same information so that someone in the future can figure out how to read each different flavor. It is not intended for regular people, but rather for programmers or computers themselves.

It is a side project of FileFormat.Info, which contains specifications and code snippets in addition to sample files. Sometimes it is easier to look at examples rather than trying to figure out what a formal specification really is saying.


  • Can you still access your thesis or dissertation?
  • Will your family be able to watch your childhood videos?
  • Are the only copies of your most precious memories on paper?

Most new information is now created and stored digitally. Preserving the bits themselves is necessary, but you still need to figure out what they mean!


This is just a side project by an amateur. Please take that into account when you leave feedback!

How long have you been doing this?

The main FileFormat.Info site has been running since 2002. This site was split out in 2012.

Why these particular files?

Since the whole point is to diseminate the files as widely as possible, I need the files to be completely free of any and all legal restrictions. These generally limits me to:

  • Really old stuff
  • Government stuff
  • Public domain stuff
  • My stuff

Within these restrictions, I tried to find things that are interesting and positive.

I try to use as close to the original as possible. In other words, the Magna Carta in the original Latin instead of English.

What other files are you planning to add?

You can read my notes on pending files, list of rejected files and see my list of idea links.

How can I help?

  • Do you know something (anything!) about an obscure file format?
  • Do you have access to some esoteric software that can translate formats?
  • Do you have the complete legal rights to a noteworthy digital object and be willing to give them away?

If so, get in touch!