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<nettime> Obituary: Michael S. Hart
Patrice Riemens on Sun, 11 Sep 2011 19:07:26 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Obituary: Michael S. Hart

bwo Sarai Reader List/ A. Mani


Read the full version at:   http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Michael_S._Hart


"Obituary for Michael Stern Hart

...Hart was best known for his 1971 invention of electronic books, or
eBooks. He founded Project Gutenberg, which is recognized as one of
the earliest and longest-lasting online literary projects. He often
told this story of how he had the idea for eBooks. He had been granted
access to significant computing power at the University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign. On July 4 1971, after being inspired by a free
printed copy of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, he decided to
type the text into a computer, and to transmit it to other users on
the computer network. From this beginning, the digitization and
distribution of literature was to be Hart's life's work, spanning over
40 years.

Hart was an ardent technologist and futurist. A lifetime tinkerer, he
acquired hands-on expertise with the technologies of the day: radio,
hi-fi stereo, video equipment, and of course computers. He constantly
looked into the future, to anticipate technological advances. One of
his favorite speculations was that someday, everyone would be able to
have their own copy of the Project Gutenberg collection or whatever
subset desired. This vision came true, thanks to the advent of large
inexpensive computer disk drives, and to the ubiquity of portable
mobile devices, such as cell phones.

Hart also predicted the enhancement of automatic translation, which
would provide all of the world's literature in over a hundred
languages. While this goal has not yet been reached, by the time of
his death Project Gutenberg hosted eBooks in 60 different languages,
and was frequently highlighted as one of the best Internet-based


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