Oct. 1, 2016
— A vintage LP that went gold in the 1970s is being re-released, and this time, people may actually listen to it.
The gold-plated phonograph records that were launched in 1977 on NASA's Voyager 1 and 2 to introduce the Earth's civilization to any extraterrestrials who might come across the probes in the future are now the focus of an on-going but already funded Kickstarter campaign to offer the disks' contents as the "ultimate album package."
"An exquisitely-designed objet d'art ... this Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition vinyl box set will only be available through this Kickstarter," Ozma Records wrote in the project description. "It is the ultimate album package of the ultimate album package."
The original two disks, which were identical, sought to tell the story of the Earth as expressed in sounds, images, and science, including music from different cultures and eras, dozens of naturally-recorded sounds and spoken greetings in 55 human languages and one whale language. Among the audio tracks are Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, "Johnny B. Goode," performed by Chuck Berry, recordings of birds and thunder, and a child saying "Hello from the children of planet Earth."
Compiled by a committee led by the late astronomer Carl Sagan, the 12-inch gold-plated copper disks were attached to each probe with a cartridge, needle and instructions in a symbolic language to explain how to playback the record.
The anniversary edition is more conventional in its design, but no less visually compelling.
Ozma Records' Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary box set includes three translucent gold vinyl LPs. (Ozma Records)
Packaged in a cloth-covered box with gold foil inlay, the three, heavyweight translucent gold vinyl LPs contain the same music, greetings and sounds that were included on the original Voyager Golden Record. The nearly two hours of audio is complemented by a hardbound book of images from the original interstellar message, as well as photos of the planets that were captured by the Voyager probes on their grand tour of the solar system, essays and ephemera from the project's history.
Each set also includes a plastic digital download card with a code to access the audio in digital formats. A lithograph of the iconic Golden Record cover diagram printed in gold metallic ink on archival paper, a high-quality enamel pin of that same diagram and custom turntable slipmat featuring the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory's heliocentric view of the Voyager probes' trajectories complete the box set.
"Our hope is that [this edition] will provoke questions about our place in the universe, open our minds to possibility and serve as a reminder that the future is really up to all of us," wrote Ozma Records' David Pescovitz, managing partner and editor of the Boing Boing technology website; Timothy Daly, the manager of Amoeba Music; and graphic designer Lawrence Azerrad.
NASA's twin Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft were each outfitted with a golden record before their launches in 1977. (NASA)
Timothy Ferris, who produced the original record, will join Ozma Records in the studio to remaster the audio for vinyl. Jon Lomberg, who designed the Voyager records, has also lent his support to the project.
The box sets are being sold for $98 each. Ozma Records began the Kickstarter campaign on Sept. 20 with a goal of raising $198,000. As of Saturday (Oct. 1), more than 6,600 people had pledged more than $830,000.
The campaign ends Oct. 20 at 11:18 p.m. EDT (0318 GMT on Oct. 21). Twenty (20) percent of the net proceeds from the sale of the 40th Anniversary Edition will be donated to the Carl Sagan Institute at Cornell University.
The Voyager Golden Record was previously reproduced in 1992 on CD-ROM as a part of the now out-of-print Warner News Media box set, "Murmurs of Earth."