Project Gutenberg eBooks were being read on iPods within a week of the latter’s introduction, not to mention cell phones and smarter variants thereof, such as the iPhone. With well over 4 billion cell (mobile) phones (according to the United Nations) compared c. 1 billion computers, the former may well turn out to be the preferred platform for reading text.Over the years, I have interviewed Michael Hart and we have corresponded prolifically on a variety of topics. I have always relished his anti-authoritarian streak. Michael is a true, unvarnished and non-compromising independent, out to empower the individual at the expense of faceless, heartless corporate and government bureaucracies.

March 8 being Michael’s 62nd birthday, we have decided to publish snippets of our exchanges.Happy Birthday, Michael!!!

Sam:Some people refer to you as “The First Citizen of the Internet” …Michael:Perhaps because I was the first person to be on the Internet’s systems without being paid to do so. Everyone else I knew of was a government employee, staff, or one of the student slave wage computer operators, their bosses, etc.I was certainly “none of the above.”I was probably the first “hitchhiker” on the Internet and that helped to give me the unique perspective that led to the creation of Project Gutenberg, Open Source, virtual communities, and a host of other things we all take for granted now.Project Gutenberg was the first “site” on the Internet, the first place people went to download materials, general information, and so on. There may have been similar things at the companies that serviced the mainframes, but certainly not the general stuff the public could download or upload that we see today.I certainly appeared to be the first to view computers as a huge communications network independent of their computing ability.I remember saying, back in 1971:”Computers Aren’t Just For Computing Anymore.”Sam:I’ve heard various versions of the events of the night of July 4th, 1971. What really happened?

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