Goodbye to creator of the first e-book
This week we say goodbye to the man credited with creating the first e-book. Michael Hart died on September 6, 2011. Hart founded the free digital library Project Gutenberg in 1971.
The first e-book was a copy of Declaration of Independence. At the time, he was working with an early computer performing data processing. But data processing didn’t interest him as much as the idea of sharing information.
Hart posted the Declaration of Independence on the Arpanet, which is the network that later became known as the Internet. The idea of freely distributing texts caught his imagination, and Project Gutenberg was born.
According to The New York Times, Hart intended Project Gutenberg “‘to encourage the creation and distribution of e-books’ and, by making books available to computer users at no cost, ‘to help break down the bars of ignorance and illiteracy.’”
One of the earliest books available for free was Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Hart worked alone on the project for 17 years until the idea caught on. Today volunteers help scan books and more than 30,000 titles can be downloaded for free at Project Gutenberg.