The History of E-Readers

E-Readers are portable, wireless devices that allow users to view electronic versions of books, newspapers, and magazines. They are also used for reading educational materials and textbooks.

BlogEducationThe History of E-Readers

E-Readers are portable, wireless devices that allow users to view electronic versions of books, newspapers, and magazines. They are also used for reading educational materials and textbooks.

Although e-readers have been around for several years, their popularity is waning as tablet computers become more popular. However, e-readers still have their place in the library world.

Bob Brown’s Reading Machine

In 1930, the modernist poet and sometime industrialist Bob Brown invented a reading machine. His vision was to replace the cut-up lines of a printed text on a page with a continuous line of film, which could be read visually by a reader without needing to move from top to bottom or left to right.

The History of eReaders

He proposed that this invention would revolutionize reading and that it would be the first inkless writing machine. He invited avant-garde poets such as Gertrude Stein and William Carlos Williams to contribute their work to a book of poems called “Readies” that was to be written to be read on the machine.

It turns out that the poets who prepared texts for this book were not attempting to imprint an author’s voice on a page, but instead were working with an ambiguity of representation that made the project all the more challenging. The words of these poets become more visual than linguistic, the page becomes less important than what is portrayed.

Angela Ruiz Robles’ Enciclopedia Mecanica

Angela Ruiz Robles is a Spanish teacher who invented the first prototype of an electronic book. Her device, called the Enciclopedia Mecanica, was designed to lighten the weight of her students’ portfolios, make learning more attractive, and adapt learning materials to the needs of each student.

The mechanical encyclopedia had no pages, instead text and images were on reels that loaded onto rotating spindles. The device weighed less than a textbook and was portable, which allowed it to be used at home and at school.

In 1949, Ruiz Robles filed a patent for her invention. However, she never had the financial support to get her invention into production. She returned to Madrid after interviewing potential partners but her search yielded no funding. Despite her failure, Ruiz Robles continued to receive recognition for her work. She was awarded the Civil Order of Alfonso X the Wise in 1947 for her social work and pedagogical innovations. She was also given a Gold Medal at an exhibition for Spanish inventors in 1952 and an Oscar at the Zaragoza National and Official Fair in 1957.

Project Gutenberg

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Project Gutenberg, a digital library created by Michael Hart. He started the project by typing in a copy of the Declaration of Independence and posted it to a computer network he had access to at the University of Illinois.

After a couple of years, Hart began to collect other public domain books. He also added new software that let him scan paper copies of books and convert them to e-texts.

Throughout the 1990s, more volunteers joined the effort. Hart manually entered all the text until 1989 when image scanners and optical character recognition software became more widespread, making book scanning more feasible.

In order to make the e-texts available for free, Project Gutenberg releases must be in plain text format (US-ASCII or ISO-8859-1). They are distributed under a licensing agreement that limits their use to non-commercial purposes. Some of the texts are under copyright, and these are not available without permission from the copyright holder.

Sony’s Data Discman

One of the first e-Readers was Sony’s Data Discman, which was released in Japan in 1990 and reached the US in 1991. These readers were primarily research devices, using 3.15 inch compact disks to store encyclopedias and other reference materials.

They were designed to be used on the move, allowing users to read books and other information while on vacation or on an airplane. They also had a small screen to display the text, which could be magnified or enlarged with a flip-up cover.

The e-reader was based on the electronic paper technology, which allowed the display screen to reflect light like regular paper without the need for a backlight. The technology was later incorporated into the Sony Librie and Amazon’s Kindle, and has become increasingly popular in recent years.

The e-reader was not a success in Western markets, though 90,000 were sold in Japan during its first eight months on the market. The Data Discman was expensive, and only a small number of titles were available.


Friday, November 18, 2022