I made this in response to a thread in the OOTvsSE forum, but I have a feeling a few people might be interested in it that would never see it there.
A lot of people wonder what was done for the restoration and revision that began in 1995, and then renewed in 2004, especially at this place, and people often throw around figures and factoids and often vague references, but it seems to me that most people only have this vague sense of what survives of the original Star Wars negative and what happened in the process of making the SE. Even I don't know the answers to much of that--maybe the negative is fine and they were working from a new restoration negative all along, such is never stated outright, we're all just making the reasonable assumption and general impression that they worked directly from the O-neg. But in any case, I decided to compile a detailed synthesis of all that we know about the matter. The most useful records are ILM:Into the Digital Realm, and American Cinematographer from Feb 1997, but there is a larger picture that must be taken into account, and you also need to have a bit of technical knowledge to understand what is being discussed and what is a reasonable conclusion.
For the article see: http://secrethistoryofstarwars.com/savingstarwars.html
If anyone has anything to add--preferrably with a source--or anything to correct, I am all ears. The crappy SE neg shots were taken from a Youtube video since I only have the SE specials on VHS so they suck, if anyone has any of that footage in better quality it would be helpful.
The Secret History of Star Wars -- now available on Amazon.com!
"When George went back and put new creatures into the original Star Wars, I find that disturbing. It’s a revision of history. That bothers me."
--James Cameron, Entertainment Weekly, April 2010