During 1999, Romke Jan Bernhard Sloot, an ordinary and unassuming Dutch electronics technician and television repair man, claimed to have worked out (and developed) a revolutionary computer coding system that compressed data, and would render computer hard disks, CD-ROMs, DVDs and other media storage devices – Obsolete.
An example of what his system was capable of, was that in theory, every movie that had ever been made, would fit easily onto one 700mb CD-ROM.
Sloot had attempted to sell his invention to Philips, but he soon discovered that Philips’ engineers were not interested.
Roel Pieper, who was at that time a board member of Philips, however, believed the invention had great potential and undoubtedly valuable, and decided to join Sloots in his venture.
The pair then began to look for investors all around the world.
Pieper himself had invested millions of dollars of his own money into the project.
In the Dutch language Publication ‘De Broncode’, Sloots talked about another way of thinking about something that worked at hardware level, by using a unique code he called ‘seven’. He did not use binary 1’s and 0’s because he believed that they were limited as they worked in two dimensions only, and greater efficiency could be obtained using three dimensional code.
On May 10th 1999, he wrote: ‘Since I don’t believe there are compression methods possible which for example can store a video film to less than 100kb, I have searched for another method. After many years of experimentation, I have succeeded with a completely new technique, without using other compression methods, all types of data can be stored on any media with a maximum capacity of 128kb, and can be played back without loss of quality or speed.’
Jan Sloots, however, died suddenly on September 11, 1999, the day before the details of his unique project were going to be laid out in a working contract and production of his system began.
And all his notes, his prototype engine, and his carefully guarded source code were apparently ‘lost’ …
‘The Sloot Digital Coding System (SDCS) would shake the world: a new alphabet for digital storage that didn’t use binary code, but a much more efficient method. The principle behind SDCS seems simple. As a text consists of a limited number of characters, a movie consists of a limited amount of colours and sounds. All those basic data were stored in five algorithms in five memory stores. For movies, each algorithm would have a maximum length of 74 Mb. That’s 370 Mb in total: the invention’s engine. To start the engine, only a proper key was needed. For every page of a book, for every image in a movie, Sloot calculated a unique code. The concatenation of these codes would again result in a unique code. The final code, the key, would be one kilobyte in length, regardless of the length of the movie or the size of the book.’
DE BRONCODE – ERIC SMIT