Feeds

Vale Michael Stern Hart

Project Gutenberg founder is dead

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Obituary The man who arguably gave the world its first glimpse of non-Sci-Fi e-books, Michael Stern Hart, founder of Project Gutenberg, has died at the age of 64. Hart’s passing was announced in this obituary, posted on the Gutenberg Project’s Website.

For those who understand e-books only in terms of the Amazon Kindle, Hart’s name might be unknown. Yet it was his idea, launched in 1971, to capture books in an electronic archive, that first such attempt. At the time, such an archive was a radical idea; today, it’s an expectation.

His work depended, in part, an unlimited account created on a mainframe at the University of Illinois, which was also a node on the early Internet. The project has since its inception depended on the work of volunteers to help capture books as text – initially as copy-typists, later using scanners. Over time, Project Gutenberg moved between universities, and is currently hosted by ibiblio at the University of North Caroline at Chapel Hill.

As Project Gutenberg grew and attracted adherents outside the United States, it also had to negotiate the labyrinth of international copyright: a book in the public domain in one country might still be under copyright in other countries. So it was that the project eventually spawned spin-offs and affiliates in Australia, Canada, Germany, Europe and other locations.

Hart’s legacy also aligns with other early visionaries: that of a world in which important information is free. The project necessarily focused on out-of-copyright works – and by dint of academic and public support, its books are free. Literacy, Hart believed, was opportunity.

Amen to that. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Holy vintage vehicles! Earliest known official Batmobile goes on sale
Riddle me this: are you prepared to pay US$180k?
Criticism of Uber's journo-Data Analytics plan is an Attack on DIGITAL FREEDOM
First they came for Emil – and I'm damn well SPEAKING OUT
'Open source just means big companies can steal your code.' O RLY?
Plus: Flame of the Week returns, for one night only!
'It is comforting to know where your data centres are.' UK.GOV does NOT
Plus: Anons are 'wannabes', KKK says, before being pwned
NEWSFLASH: It's time to ditch dullard Facebook chums
Everything hot in tech, courtesy of avian anchor Regina Eggbert
Hey, you, PHONE-FACE! Kickstarter in-car mobe mount will EMBED your phone into your MUG
Stick it on the steering wheel and wait for the airbag to fire
Bible THUMP: Good Book beats Darwin to most influential tome title
Folio Society crowns fittest of surviving volumes
U wot? Silicon Roundabout set to become Silicon U-BEND
Crap-spouting London upstarts to get permanent road closure
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Internet Security Threat Report 2014
An overview and analysis of the year in global threat activity: identify, analyze, and provide commentary on emerging trends in the dynamic threat landscape.