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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 books in the public domain. 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 20 May 2020 , Project Gutenberg had reached 62,108 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.
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This article needs to be updated.December 2019)(
The text files use the format of plain text encoded in UTF-8 and wrapped at 65-70 characters, with paragraphs separated by a double line break. In recent decades, the resulting relatively bland appearance and the lack of a markup possibility have often been perceived as a drawback of this format.[dubious ]
Project Gutenberg attempts to address this by making many texts available in HTML, ePub, and PDF versions as well, but faithful to the mission of offering data that is easy to handle with computer code, plain ASCII text remains the most important format; the ePub versions still contain extra line breaks between paragraphs and the autogenerated HTML versions are simply the ASCII text between
<pre> tags. Another not-for-profit project, Standard Ebooks, aims to address these issues with its collection of public domain titles that are formatted and styled. It corrects issues related to design and typography.
In December 1994, Project Gutenberg was criticized by the Text Encoding Initiative for failing to include apparatus (documentation) of the decisions unavoidable in preparing a text, or in some cases, documenting which of several (conflicting) versions of a text has been the one digitized.
The selection of works (and editions) available has been determined by popularity, ease of scanning, being out of copyright, and other factors; this would be difficult to avoid in any crowd-sourced project.
In March 2004, a new initiative was begun by Michael Hart and John S. Guagliardo to provide low-cost intellectual properties. The initial name for this project was Project Gutenberg 2 (PG II), which created controversy among PG volunteers because of the re-use of the project's trademarked name for a commercial venture.
All affiliated projects are independent organizations that share the same ideals and have been given permission to use the Project Gutenberg trademark. They often have a particular national or linguistic focus.
You can view or edit ASCII text using just about every text editor or viewer in the world. [...] Unicode is steadily gaining ground, with at least some support in every major operating system, but we're nowhere near the point where everyone can just open a text based on Unicode and read and edit it.