The Sloot Digital Coding System: an Amazing, Enigmatic, Lost Invention

A movie of size 8 KB, meaning an entire motion picture on a chipcard! – How dumbfounding does that sound?

Well, this bit of news is from 2004, about a Dutch man named Jan Sloot, who had found out a novel computer source code, called the Sloot Digital Coding System (SDCS). But as fate would have it, Sloot died of a heart attack a day before he could patent his invention and the mysterious thing could never see daylight again.

Now six feet under, this could-have-been-revolutionary coding system had supposedly carried the power to render hard disks, CD-ROMS, and any mighty data storage ware for that matter, a complete waste. Although it had then attracted the interest of all the top investors of the industry, none was ever revealed the secret behind its functionality.

Wait, were you thinking ‘compression?’

No, it’s not about this word at all. In fact, compression of this level, technically, is impossible. Yes, Sloot was able to play on a 1999 PC, sixteen movies simultaneously from a 64 KB chip at high speed without reading from a hard drive. He was also able to store sixty four full size movies on a single chip. But, this fact is very intriguing as the inventor had not used any binary system. How on earth did Jan Sloot manage to shrink huge video files into lossless, single digit KB sizes? What really was this amazing digital alphabet he had developed and followed?

An extremely efficient way of digitizing data:

Jan Sloot had claimed that he had found a novel way of squeezing digital data, which was way different from the conventional and ritualistic, one and zero combination sheets. Roel Pieper, a Dutch IT-entrepreneur and the sole holder of a copy of the Sloot demonstration table with the decoding, but not the encoding system, had spoken about this invention back then:

“It is not about compression. Everyone is mistaken about that. The principle can be compared with a concept as Adobe-postscript, where, sender and receiver know what kind of data recipes can be transferred without the data itself actually being sent.”

Of course, the Adobe-postscript point sounds sane, because shared data, here, is font-dependent. If the font shared by a sender is same as what the receiver has, documents circulated between the two only need to have letter codes. As such, the font does not need to be transmitted. And, this saves a lot of bandwidth because fonts, we know are very bulky. So, if we follow Pieper’s explanation, the Sloot Digital Coding System seems like some clever information transmission praxis.

Conflicting ideas, contradictory reasoning:

Henry van der Pluijm, a technology analyst, on the other hand, had something else to say. He stated that the computer source code isn’t needed to make the technology work again. Rather, the chip code embedded in the selected working machine, would derive this source code in a manner similar to typical decompilation.

The man had even reconstructed the thing, although not by decompilation, but, by scanning Jan Sloot’s patent application. Based on his reconstruction, van der Pluijm had suggested that the principle of the Sloot Digital Coding System is only hypothetical; it has no practical significance, and that it would end in undesirable performance problems if used for online streaming purposes. As a matter of fact, van der Pluijm even liked to claim that Sloot’s invention was only an overhyped, extreme claim, which is nothing more than a mere misinterpretation of something which is not even remotely possible.


Henry van der Pluijm should understand this that had the Sloot’s invention been this simple, it would have been a product by now. But, whatever might be the explanation, Sloot’s invention, if real, was powerful enough to sidecast all digital storage devices. If this science is really valid, then this man had gone back to the very nascent stage of digital technology development and discovered a different way to store lossless digital data. His invention coming to practice would have meant the death of the binary system.

How safe were the technology big shots with this invention, especially when Jan Sloot himself had suggested “the end of the digital era?”

A post by Chayanika Deka. 25th February, 2015.


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