E-Book Developer Michael Hart Dies
The Urbana man credited with inventing the e-book has died.
Michael Hart developed what would become Project Gutenberg at the University of Illinois Urbana campus. Starting with the text of the Declaration of Independence, and a 1970s predecessor to the Internet, Hart and many volunteers built up a collection of thousands of free e-books.
Project Gutenberg currently offers more than 36,000 e-books, mostly in the public domain, and offered them online years before electronic devices such as Kindles had been invented.
In a 2003 interview on the Afternoon Magazine on WILL, Hart talked about the satisfaction he received from hearing about people who used Project Gutenberg.
"I get little notes in the email, saying 'Hey! I just Project Gutenberg, and this is great stuff. I love reading and I found five books that I couldn't find at the bookstores and the library that I've been looking for forever," Hart said. "You get people that (it) just tickles their fancy, and they just read and read and read, and they're so happy about it."
In an obituary posted on its website, Project Gutenberg says Michael Hart was born in Tacoma, Washington in 1947. He grew up in Urbana, where he was an Eagle Scout, and his parents were professors at the University of Illinois. Hart served in the Army in South Korea during the Vietnam War era.
Project Gutenberg says the 64-year-old Hart died Tuesday at his home in Urbana. Funeral arrangements are pending.