adj.recognizable and understandable only with the intervention of specialized equipment or a computerClapp 1963, 360Even were techniques and devices developed which would enable a mechanized service to rival or even to exceed the satisfactoriness of traditional methods, the new mechanisms would require an expensive conversion of records to machine-readable form—typically microtext, punched cards or computer tape. It may be foreseen that records will eventually be initially published in such forms (and indeed, there are harbingers of this).Roper 1982, 111Machine-readable records may be created on a number of different magnetic media: tape, cassetted tape, disc or floppy disc. Computer output, whether in the form of paper printout or computer output microfilm (COM), cannot be regarded as machine-readable since it cannot be re-input readily to the computer for further processing.Ambacher 1988, 131Since machine-readable records have traditionally been accessioned on reels of magnetic tape, preservation costs are calculated in terms of the of the costs per reel for accessioning and processing.Gilliland 2014a, 135After World War II, the archival field took its lead from developments in the field of social science research, applying little traditional archival theory and practice in its work with machine-readable records. Terry Cook has named these the first generation of electronic records archivists.Anderson et al. 2021, 270The processor must identify access points because optical character recognition (OCR) software cannot be used for older drawings, as most were drawn by hand and are not machine readable.
Machine-readable is commonly used to refer to electronic records, which may be stored on magnetic media or punch cards. However, phonograph records, audiocassettes, and CDs and DVDs are examples of analog machine-readable formats.