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Project Gutenberg was founded by Michael Hart in 1971 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign National Center for Supercomputing Applications. The stated purpose was to digitize 20,000 books by the year 2000.

That goal was was not met because of changes in the U.S. Copyright Law precipitated by Mickey Mouse.

When Mickey was about to turn 75, the U.S. Copyright Law was extended by 20 years at the urging of the Disney Company in 1993 to protect their rights to the name and likeness.

Project Gutenberg was counting on a 75 year copyright law. Certainly long enough to protect a human, but not long enough to protect a corporation.

In September of 2009, Project Gutenberg will surpass 25,000 books in their collection. Access to all these books is free.

To access the books go to Project Gutenberg and enter the Author and/or Title that you would like. Remember these are books in the Public Domain or where an agreement has been reached between the author an Project Gutenberg.

Here we have entered the Title a tale of two cities and click the Go button.

Gutenberg Main

 

Where two entries are found. The first is the book itself in .txt format. The second is an audio file of the book.

Click on the first entry.

A Tale of Two Cities

 

Where we see that Project Gutenberg carries this book in a number of text formats. Click on Plain Text in the fourth entry. A Zip file is a compressed file format only needed on the slowest dial-up connection. A Mirror Site

is just another Internet Server that carries the same file.

A Tale of Two Cities

 

Where we get the full text as shown here or the first part of which is shown below. Text files are quite compact. The entire book can be downloaded on a dial-up connection in few dozen seconds.

Text file

 

If you have a broadband connection you can go back and listen to an audio version of A Tale of Two Cities or download it to any MP3 player to take with you.

When we look at the audio version, we find many different audio formats and by many different Readers as shown below.

Audio books

 

Go and use Project Gutenberg. You might even want to buy an MP3 player, iPhone, Palm Pilot or Blackberry and join the Information Age so you will always have information at your finger tips.