Date: Tue, 20 May 1997 18:06:39 -0400
From: Bob Rankin 
Subject: TOURBUS - 20 May 1997 - Project Gutenberg

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           TODAY'S TOURBUS TOPIC: Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg began in 1971 when founder Michael Hart was given an
unexpected gift.  As a lark, the computer operators at the Materials
Research Lab at the University of Illinois gave him a computer account
with $100,000,000 of computer time in it.

Michael thought for an hour or so and announced that the greatest value
created by computers would not be computing, but rather the storage and
retrieval of the information that was stored in our libraries.  And he
also devised a clever plan to repay his hundred-million dollar "debt".

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Hart's Declaration

Hart proceeded to type in the "Declaration of Independence", and Project
Gutenberg was born.  Today there are hundreds of public domain works
available through Project Gutenberg, and the three sections of the PG
Library are described below:

   * Light Literature; such as Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking
     Glass, Peter Pan, Aesop's Fables, etc.

   * Heavy Literature; such as the Bible or other religious documents,
     Shakespeare, Moby Dick, Paradise Lost, etc.

   * References; such as Roget's Thesaurus, almanacs, and a set of
     encyclopedia, dictionaries, etc.

Hart's philosophy was that anything entered into a computer can be
reproduced indefinitely.  And theoretically, anyone in the world can have
a copy of a book that has been entered into a computer.

In an effort to make the Project Gutenberg "Etexts" as widely usable
as possible, they are available in ASCII, or plain text format.  Thus,
people with most any type of computer - DOS, Apple, Atari, homebrew Z80s,
Mac, UNIX or mainframe can read the Etexts without any special software.

As Hart rightly says:

   "The Project Gutenberg Philosophy is to make information, books and
   other materials available to the general public in forms a vast
   majority of the computers, programs and people can easily read, use,
   quote, and search.

   Alice in Wonderland, the Bible, Shakespeare, the Koran and many
   others will be with us as long as civilization... an operating system,
   a program, a markup system... will not."

Project Gutenberg's team of volunteers is close to producing their 1000th
Etext, and they have an ambitious goal of completing the Electronic Public
Library by the end of the year 2001.  Some of their efforts have been
hampered though, by legislation that has extended copyrights in several
countries from 50 to 70 years after the author's death.  You can read more
about copyright issues on the PG site.

Getting Involved

Project Gutenberg is a volunteer organization funded by private donations
and a grant from Carnegie Mellon University.  If you'd like to help in the
work of preserving and distributing public domain literature, you can get
involved in a variety of ways.

Volunteers are needed to locate and scan texts, do editing, proofreading
and other jobs.  And since the funds to continue this work are always
scarce, monetary donations are always welcome.  If you would care to make
a donation, no matter how small, to Project Gutenberg please mail it to:

   Project Gutenberg/CMU
   Post Office Box 2782
   Champaign, IL 61825

Checks should be made out to "Project Gutenberg/CMU" and are tax
deductible to the maximum allowable by law.

Do something nice for your brain - unplug the television tonight and
pay a visit to Project Gutenberg at - then
search for your favorite classic by author or title and curl up with
a nice electronic book.

Have a good read!   --Bob

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