Obit for Michael S Hart, ebook inventor and Gutenberg Project founder

In this week's Observer, a heartfelt obituary from John Naughton for Michael S Hart, founder of the Gutenberg Project, and inventor of ebooks:
Those who knew him testify that Michael Hart was an extraordinary individual – idiosyncratic, original, humane, determined and generous to a fault. He never made much money, repaired his own car, had scant faith in medicine and built most of his own electronic gear from stuff he picked up in garage sales. On Saturday mornings over breakfast in the local diner, he would work out the optimum route to cover the maximum number of garage sales that day; it was his version of the travelling salesman problem in mathematics.

In his obituary of Hart, his colleague Gregory Newby described him as an "unreasonable" man, in George Bernard Shaw's celebrated use of the term. "Reasonable people," wrote Shaw, "adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people."

So farewell Michael Hart, the genius who freed up literature

(Image: Brewster Kahle)


  1. Hats off to you sir. The world has benefited from your work. Imagine if you had proper medical treatment for your heart condition, you would have extra years of life to do more. Its too bad that the line between genius and madness is a fine one

  2. The problem with finding the ultimate proof that quack ‘medicine’ doesn’t work is that it is generally too late to actually learn anything from it.

     Just goes to show that one can be brilliant and stupid at the same time.

  3. I never knew about Michael, but I did know about Project Gutenberg. Andrew Carnegie is a hero because he used his vast wealth to establish many libraries. Michael Hart is now my hero for making great literature available to the world for free. I feel bad that I didn’t know this great man.

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