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History[edit | edit source]
Project Gutenberg was started by Michael Hart in 1971. Hart, a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, obtained access to a Xerox Sigma V mainframe computer in the university's Materials Research Lab. Through friendly operators, he received an account with a virtually unlimited amount of computer time; its value at that time has since been variously estimated at $100,000 or $100,000,000. Hart has said he wanted to "give back" this gift by doing something that could be considered to be of great value.
This particular computer was one of the 15 nodes on the computer network that would become the Internet. Hart believed that computers would one day be accessible to the general public and decided to make works of literature available in electronic form for free. He used a copy of the United States Declaration of Independence in his backpack, and this became the first Project Gutenberg e-text. He named the project for Johannes Gutenberg, the fifteenth century German printer who propelled the movable-type printing press revolution.
By the mid-1990s, Hart was running Project Gutenberg from Illinois Benedictine College. More volunteers had joined the effort. Most text was entered manually until image scanners and optical character recognition software improved and became more widely available, which made book scanning more feasible. Hart later came to an arrangement with Carnegie Mellon University, which agreed to administer Project Gutenberg's finances. As the volume of e-texts increased, volunteers began to take over the project's day-to-day operations that Hart had run.
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Pietro Di Miceli, an Italian volunteer, developed and administered the first Project Gutenberg website and started the development of the Project online Catalog. In his ten years in this role (1994–2004), the Project web pages won a number of awards, often being featured in "best of the Web" listings, and contributing to the Project popularity .
Starting in 2004, an improved online catalog made Project Gutenberg content easier to browse, access, and link to.
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Scope of collection[edit | edit source]
These are primarily works of literature from the western Western cultural tradition. In addition to literature such as novels, poetry, short stories, and drama, Project Gutenberg also has cookbooks, reference works and issues of periodicals. The Project Gutenberg collection also has a few non-text items such as audio files and music notation files.
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Ideals[edit | edit source]
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A slogan of the project is "break down the bars of ignorance and illiteracy", because its volunteers aim to continue spreading public literacy and appreciation for the literary heritage just as public libraries began to do in the late 19th century.
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Copyright issues[edit | edit source]
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Criticism[edit | edit source]
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Affiliated projects[edit | edit source]
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For a list of other similar projects, some of which have been inspired by Project Gutenberg, see the list of digital library projects.
Notes[edit | edit source]
- The History and Philosophy of Project Gutenberg, August 1992.
- According to gutindex-2006, there were 1,653 new Project Gutenberg items posted in the first 33 weeks of 2006. This averages out to 50.09 per week. This does not include additions to affiliated projects.
- The Project Gutenberg Mission Statement, Updated October 23 2004
(Project Gutenberg calls its products "ebooks," and that term is used here. The corresponding Wikipedia term is e-texts)
See also[edit | edit source]
[edit | edit source]
- Official website
- Distributed Proofreaders a worldwide group of volunteer editors which are now the main source of ebooks for Project Gutenberg
- HTML Writers Guild provides guidance in using XHTML and XML markup for Project Gutenberg
- Works by Project Gutenberg at Project Gutenberg (note that many of these have been renamed to Project Gutenberg for trademark concerns, and are not original with the Project)
- GutenMark — a tool for automatically creating high-quality HTML or LaTeX markup from Project Gutenberg etexts. (not affiliated with Project Gutenberg)
- GutenPy — an opensource text reader and offline catalog browser for Project Gutenberg written with pythonGTK for windows and linux. (not affiliated with Project Gutenberg)
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