For about two years, as countless tourists on Swan Boats and feathered creatures floated on the Public Garden lagoon, the memories of a young girl and her family sat corroding in the water below.
Hundreds of pictures and dozens of videos were contained in a digital camera that was found earlier this year by a Boston-area technology writer who happened upon the muddy and rusted silver device during a walk in the Public Garden.
Looking at the dirt-covered camera, it seemed hopeless that anything could be recovered from it, but Andy Ihnatko tried anyway.
When he hit a dead end he called a contact at California-based DriveSavers, a company that specializes in data recovery, and asked them if they were up for a challenge.
Chris Bross, a senior engineer who worked on the team that labored over the camera's parts, said the condition of the device and its inside was “horrendous.” The storage device had been opened, the manufacturer was unidentifiable and there was “corrosion throughout all components.”
"Ugly, in one word, would be the best description for it," said Bross, when asked about the condition of the camera's insides.
But after 45 hours of work the team was able to recover the memories - picture and movie files that included shots of a girl dressed up a as a princess and the scene from a hotel balcony. The recovery also led to a clue: the approximate time the camera fell into the water. The most recent picture on the memory card was of the lagoon, apparently from a Swan Boat, and dated June 24, 2010.
When the company informed Ihnatko, he wrote about it and posted the story Wednesday on TechHive. Now he’s trying to reunite the photos with their owner.
"I'm very keen to find these people and get their photos back to them," Ihnatko, a technology columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, told Metro. "These shots document a wide span of their kids' lives. For all I know, the owner backed up those photos long before losing the camera but if not, how wonderful that they'll get them back?"
The task of reuniting the owner with his or her pictures may seem impossible, but so too did the recovery of photos.
Bross said only certain, unidentifiable photos were released so the company could protect the identity of the owner and verify that person as the rightful owner when they hopefully come forward.
- The company’s chief information security officer will question the owner about the photos in an attempt to verify him or her, Bross said.
- If you believe these photos are yours or know who they belong to, you can call DriveSavers at 800-440-1904.