When I finished the infographic and showed it to my wife, she said: “Forty years? No way. Four, maybe.”

“Four, maybe” – it’s what most people think. Most people are still convinced that e-books are a fad. That’s why I was looking for a convenient, all-in-one way to challenge this myth. I hope it works. Every year shows not only the information about e-books, but also other facts and achievements. This builds a good, thought-provoking time reference.

Share this infographic if you think it deserves it. I wanted to put it on the web before this year’s edition of Read an E-Book Week. 40 years of history are asking for a week of attention – this should work.

I dedicate this little piece of work to a true visionary Michael S. Hart. When he was typing the text of the US Declaration of Independence, the only word I was speaking was “ma-ma”.

via ebookfriend.ly

Via Piotr’s Password Incorrect blog


  1. Well, he couldn’t add everything.

    Though I probably would’ve mentioned Peanut Press, one of the earliest ebook outlets for handheld devices. I might add a mention of E-Ink to the 2007 Kindle post, or add a new post about the creation of E-Ink.

    Sony wasn’t the first ebook reader, and even though it was (I think) the first with E-Ink, it wasn’t the one that made a big splash in the market (Kindle did that).

    Most people I know also believe the ebook started with the Kindle.

  2. There have long been and industry promoted view that the term eBook only applies to Eink devices that in functionality atempts to copy the book feel 100% with little modification. In that definition the kindle was really the first device to fit the bill of not being an general purpose platform, and there cannot be any ebook readers for neither iPhone or iPad.

    This comes in stark contrast to the way especially non fiction have been digitalized since widespread access to 24/7 interactive computing resources. And the textual nature of even games on the early personal computers.

  3. No… by that definition, Sony came before Kindle. And LCD-based dedicated devices came before that. The idea that only E-Ink devices counted as ebook reading devices is intentionally misleading, and so should not be honored by a mention in the timeline as “first device.”

    I would characterize E-Ink as having won over consumers who did not like reading devices with LCD displays.

  4. I can fill in a few blanks, if so desired, just let me know.

    A couple I think worthwhile to start with:

    1. Yesterday, March 1, Project Gutenberg released it’s 40,000th internally produced eBook.
    This is in addition to 75,000 at http://www.gutenberg.cc that were donated from eLibraries
    around the world. Subtracting 15,000 for duplication, that still leaves 100,000 PG ebooks.

    2. I had the pleasure of announcing the world’s first eBook CD at the 1990 Mid-Winter’s
    meeting of The American Library Association on January 6 in Chicago.

    More later, on request,

    Michael S. Hart
    Project Gutenberg,
    Inventor of eBooks
    The World eBook Fair

  5. Nicely done, Mr. Kowalczyk. A timely and necessary reference to a little known origin.
    Although, as much as I appreciate the design consistency of having a subhead for each year, I do not feel that Blu-Ray, Xbox 360, and even Facebook have enough relevency to this list. They are all tech milestones in their own right, but what influence did/do they have to the evolution of eBooks? Am I missing a connection here?
    I can’t think of replacements, but there must be some other mentions that would associate better. Or just lose those 3 altogether.
    Also, a few typo fixes are in order: 1971, Unites to United; 2008, 100 min. to 100 mill. (unless being axed); 2010, $900 min. to $900 mill. Can’t help it, I’m a proofreader & designer. But I did LOL when I read “Facebook hits 100 minute user!”

  6. I think the references to Blu-ray, Facebook, etc, are simply there as socio-cultural placeholders, to better associate a milestone with one that we may be more familiar with. And they are related to digital media technology in general. As such, I think they’re okay on the list.

    I’m guessing the use of “min” for million is common in Mr. Kowalczyk’s country.

  7. I’d like to thank for all the comments. It was a really tough job to pick up the most important facts for this infographic.
    The references like Blue-ray are here on purpose. They are just to show that many things started long after first e-book was created by Mr Hart – and they were accepted in a much shorter time.
    This infographic is an idea coming from an average internet user – to help people accept e-books. Some of them think that if sth doesn’t have a history, it’s not important.
    The response was wider than I thought, which is really great.
    And I’m really sorry for the typos. I was trying my best, was just not good enough.

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