The History of eBooks

Who invented the first eBook?

Although there is a dispute of who “invented” the first e-book, the first one that we now know and love today was created by Michael S. Hart. The first document he saved on a digital device was the United States Declaration of Independence. Upon completing the adapted version of the Declaration of Independence, he launched Project Gutenberg to create electronic copies of more books. This occurred back in 1971.

The original e-books were written for special purposes and only a limited audience could view them. The Internet changed the e-book landscape in the 1990s due to the fact transferring electronic files became much easier.

Digital libraries

Michael S. Hart began Project Gutenberg, which is a digital library of the world’s most popular books. As of February 2015, Project Gutenberg has over 48,000 works available to users. The project tries to make as many books free so anyone with any device can open and read a book.

bibliobytes homepageBiblioBytes is another project that began offering free digital books online back in 1993. Although the library no longer exists online, it encouraged others to begin offering free digital copies of popular books, newspapers and magazines.

Baen Free Library is also a free digital library. The books they offer are of science fiction and fantasy, all published by Baen Books. This library was founded in 1999 by Eric Flint and Jim Baen, as an experiment to determine whether the availability of books free of charge on the Internet encourages or discourages the sale of their paper books.

Popular e-Reader devices

More and more devices become e-book compatible year after year. Almost all devices (smartphones, tablets, and computers) are able to open and read an e-book file. However, there are dedicated devices that are solely used to read books, magazines and newspapers. Those devices are listed below:

Keep in mind that Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble and Sony all have different versions of each of their e-readers. The

eBook formats

Here are some of the most popular e-book file formats. Keep in mind not all e-book devices are capable of reading each file-type.

  • .pdf
  • .epub
  • .mobi
  • .azw
  • .lit
  • .html
  • .doc / .docx
  • .djvu
  • .fb2
  • .prc
  • .pdb
  • .txt
  • .pdb

Although this may not be a comprehensive overview of the history of e-books, it will give you a general overview of how they originated and how they work. Some people love physical books, but keep in mind that e-books have so many benefits. Not only are eBooks a “green” solution, but they allow users to carry literally hundreds (if not thousands) of books in one hand. That’s pretty amazing.

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