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Project Gutenberg’s mission is to encourage the creation and distribution of digital books, commonly known as eBooks, providing copyright free books for download via their website.

Project Gutenberg History

Below is a short chronological history of Project Gutenberg showing all the major milestones. If you wish for a more in depth history then please see the excellent essay by Marie Lebert, History of Project Gutenberg (1971-2010), also available in French and Spanish.


1971-07: Michael Hart keyed in The United States Declaration of Independence (eBook #1) and informed the first 100 internet users. Project Gutenberg was born.
1972: He keyed in The United States Bill of Rights (eBook #2).
1973: He keyed in The United States Constitution (eBook #5).
1974 – 1988: He keyed in parts of the Bible and several works of Shakespeare.
1989-08: The King James Bible (eBook #10).
1991-01: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Caroll (eBook #11).
1991-06: Peter Pan, by James Barrie (eBook #16).
1991: Digitization of one book per month.
1992: Digitization of two books per month.
1993: Digitization of four books per month.
1993-12: Creation of three main sections: Light Literature, Heavy Literature, Reference Literature.
1994: Digitization of eight books per month.
1994-01: The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (eBook #100).
1995: Digitization of 16 books per month.
1996 – 1997: Digitization of 32 books per month.
1997-08: La Divina Commedia di Dante, in Italian (eBook #1000).
1997: Launching of Project Gutenberg Consortia Center (PGCC).
1998 – 2000: Digitization of 36 books per month.
1999-05: Don Quijote, by Cervantès, in Spanish (eBook #2000).
2000: Creation of Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation (PGLAF).
2000-10: Charles Franks started Distributed Proofreaders to assist Project Gutenberg.
2000-12: A l’ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs, 3rd volume, by Proust, in French (eBook #3000).
2001-08: Creation of Project Gutenberg of Australia.
2001-10: The French Immortals Series (eBook #4000).
2001: Digitization of 104 books per month.
2001: Distributed Proofreaders became the main source of Project Gutenberg books.
2002: Distributed Proofreaders became an official Project Gutenberg site.
2002-04: The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci (eBook #5000).
2002: Digitization of 203 books per month.
2003-08: “Best of Gutenberg” CD with 600 books.
2003-09: Launching of Project Gutenberg Audio eBooks.
2003-10: The number of books doubled in 18 months, going from 5,000 to 10,000.
2003-10: The Magna Carta (eBook #10000).
2003-12: First DVD, with 9,400 books.
2003: Digitization of 348 books per month.
2003: Project Gutenberg Consortia Center (PGCC) became an official Project Gutenberg site.
2003-12: Launching of Distributed Proofreaders Europe by Project Rastko.
2004-01: Launching of Project Gutenberg Europe by Project Rastko.
2004-02: Michael Hart went off to Europe (Paris, Brussels, Belgrade).
2004-02: Michael Hart’s presentation at UNESCO headquarters, in Paris.
2004-02: Michael Hart’s visit to the European Parliament, in Brussels.
2004-10: 5,000 books processed by Distributed Proofreaders.
2004: Digitization of 338 books per month.
2005-01: The Life of Reason, by George Santayana (eBook #15000).
2005-05: 7,000 books processed by Distributed Proofreaders.
2005-05: First 100 books processed by Distributed Proofreaders Europe.
2005-06: 16,000 books in Project Gutenberg.
2005-06: First 100 books in Project Gutenberg Europe.
2005-07: 500 books at Project Gutenberg of Australia.
2005-10: 5th anniversary of Distributed Proofreaders.
2005: Digitization of 252 books per month.
2006-01: Launching of Project Gutenberg PrePrints.
2006-02: 8,000 books processed by Distributed Proofreaders.
2006-05: Creation of the Distributed Proofreaders Foundation.
2006-07: 35th anniversary of Project Gutenberg.
2006-07: New DVD, with 17,000 books.
2006-11: Launching of the Project Gutenberg News website.
2006-12: 20,000 books in Project Gutenberg.
2006-12: 400 books processed by Distributed Proofreaders Europe.
2006: Digitization of 345 books per month.
2007-03: 10,000 books processed by Distributed Proofreaders.
2007-04: 1,500 books in Project Gutenberg of Australia.
2007-07: Creation of Project Gutenberg Canada (PGC).
2007-12: Launching of Distributed Proofreaders Canada (DPC).
2007: Digitization of 338 books per month.
2008-03: 100 books in Project Gutenberg of Canada.
2008-04: 25,000 books in Project Gutenberg.
2008-04: English Book Collectors, by William Younger Fletcher (eBook #25000).
2008-08: 500 books in Project Gutenberg Europe.
2009-10: The Bird Book by Chester A. Reed (eBook #30000)
2011-07: 40th Anniversary of PG eBooks.
2012-06: Extinct Birds by Walter Rothschild (eBook #40000)

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