“Two score and twelve years ago, Michael Hart sat down at a terminal at the University of Illinois and typed in the text of the Declaration of Independence. He shared the file he created with other users of the computer time-sharing system he was using, and spread it over what would eventually become the Internet as we know it today.
Thirty years ago this summer, Robert Stockton decided to adapt some of the electronic texts that Michael Hart’s Project Gutenberg had been putting online, and created some of the first illustrated hypertext books on the then-new World Wide Web. I’d just set up a web server at Carnegie Mellon, where he and I were at the time, and I set up a web page with links to his web editions, as well as to other books from Project Gutenberg and other early electronic text sites. That was the beginning of The Online Books Page, which, like Project Gutenberg, is still going today.
I’ve kept the service going for a number of reasons, some of which I recently discussed in an article Renata Ewing wrote for the University of California’s HathiTrust service. I’ve been motivated in part by the opportunities The Online Books Page provides for prototyping and demonstrating ways to discover, organize, and link information about books and serials (some of which can then be also used to increase the usefulness of library collections more broadly). But I’ve also been motivated by the opportunities to publicize and encourage the work of lots of people who share literature, and knowledge about literature, with readers across the world on the internet….”