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Project Gutenberg (PG) is a volunteer effort to digitize and archive cultural works, to "encourage the creation and distribution of eBooks". It was founded in 1971 by American writer Michael S. Hart and is the oldest digital library. Most of the items in its collection are the full texts of public domain books. The Project tries to make these as free as possible, in long-lasting, open formats that can be used on almost any computer. As of 23 June 2018[update], Project Gutenberg reached 57,000 items in its collection of free eBooks.
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Michael S. Hart began Project Gutenberg in 1971 with the digitization of the United States Declaration of Independence. Hart, a student at the University of Illinois, 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 explained he wanted to "give back" this gift by doing something one could consider to be of great value. His initial goal was to make the 10,000 most consulted books available to the public at little or no charge, and to do so by the end of the 20th century.
This particular computer was one of the 15 nodes on ARPANET, the computer network that would become the Internet. Hart believed one day the general public would be able to access computers 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 after 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. He manually entered all of the text until 1989 when image scanners and optical character recognition software improved and became more available, making 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.
Starting in 2004, an improved online catalog made Project Gutenberg content easier to browse, access and hyperlink. Project Gutenberg is now hosted by ibiblio at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Italian volunteer Pietro Di Miceli 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's popularity.
Hart died on 6 September 2011 at his home in Urbana, Illinois at the age of 64.
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Hart, Michael S. "United States Declaration of Independence by United States". Project Gutenberg. Retrieved 17 February 2007.
"The Declaration of Independence of the United States of America by Thomas Jefferson" is the bold heading of the linked webpage twelve years later (6 June 2019). No author but Jefferson is identified, nor is Hart otherwise named. Officially this is Project Gutenberg Ebook #1 (assigned December 1993?), or the current index to multiple formats of the same.
What Ebook #1 actually contains is heavily annotated re-release of the first two e-texts that were released in December 1971 (as by Michael S. Hart?). For more information, open the HTML format, for instance, and search for "December" or "Michael".
- Hart, Michael S. (23 October 2004). "Gutenberg Mission Statement by Michael Hart". Project Gutenberg. Archived from the original on 14 July 2007. Retrieved 15 August 2007.
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- "Project Gutenberg Releases eBook #50,000". Project Gutenberg News. 25 February 2017. Archived from the original on 25 February 2017.
- "Hobbes' Internet Timeline". Retrieved 17 February 2009.
- Hart, Michael S. (August 1992). "Gutenberg:The History and Philosophy of Project Gutenberg". Archived from the original on 29 November 2006. Retrieved 5 December 2006.
- Day, B. H.; Wortman, W. A. (2000). Literature in English: A Guide for Librarians in the Digital Age. Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries. p. 170. ISBN 0-8389-8081-3.
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- "Michael_S._Hart". Project Gutenberg. 6 September 2011. Archived from the original on 17 September 2011. Retrieved 25 September 2011.
- Hane, Paula (2004). "Project Gutenberg Progresses". Information Today. 21 (5). Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 20 August 2007.
- Staff (August 2007). "The Distributed Proofreaders Foundation". Distributed proofreaders. Archived from the original on 21 August 2007. Retrieved 10 August 2007.
- "The CD and DVD Project". Gutenberg. 24 July 2012. Archived from the original on 5 October 2012. Retrieved 7 October 2012.
- According to gutindex-2006 Archived 13 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine, 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.
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- Michael Sperberg-McQueen, "Textual Criticism and the Text Encoding Initiative", 1994, "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 28 July 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link), retrieved 25 July 2015.
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- Staff (2005). "Project Gutenberg Europe". EUnet Yugoslavia. Archived from the original on 20 August 2007. Retrieved 20 August 2007.
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