• 1947 March 08
    (b.) -
    2011 September 06


An American author and inventor, he attended the University of Illinois, graduating in just two years. He then attended but did not complete graduate school. He is best known as an inventor of the electronic book (or e-book) and the founder of Project Gutenberg, a project to make e-books freely available via the Internet. He typed most of the early postings himself. During his time at the University of Illinois Computer Center he was given a user's account on its computer system on which his brother's best friend was the mainframe operator. Although the focus of computer use there tended to be data processing, he was aware that it was connected to a network (part of what would become the Internet) and chose to also use his computer time for information distribution. He related that: After his account was created on July 4, 1971, he had been trying to think of what to do with it and had seized upon a copy of the United States Declaration of Independence, which he had been given at a grocery store on his way home from watching fireworks that evening. He typed the text into a teletype machine but realized that it was unacceptable to transmit it to many people at once via email. Thus, to avoid "crashing the system", it had to be downloaded individually. This was the beginning of Project Gutenberg. He began posting text copies of such classics as the Bible and the works of Homer, Shakespeare, and Mark Twain. As of 1987 he had typed in a total of 313 books in this fashion. Then, through being involved in the University of Illinois PC User Group and with assistance from Mark Zinzow, a programmer at the school, he was able to recruit volunteers and set up an infrastructure of mirror sites and mailing lists for the project. With this the project was able to grow much more rapidly. The mission statements for the project were: "Encourage the Creation and Distribution of eBooks", "Help Break Down the Bars of Ignorance and Illiteracy", "Give As Many eBooks to As Many People As Possible". He was also an author and his works are available free of charge on the Project Gutenberg server. In addition, he was a member of the RepRap Project, which aims at creating a self-replicating machine.
  • Date of Birth:

    1947 March 08
  • Date of Death:

    2011 September 06
  • Gender:

  • Noted For:

    Inventor of the electronic book (or e-book) and the founder of Project Gutenberg, a project to make e-books freely available via the Internet
  • Category of Achievement:

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