The Historical E-book

The Historical E-book

For less than $100 you could purchase a portable e-book device that will allow you to download an e-book and then take it with you when you’re on the subway, train, automobile, job or school.

University students are downloading textbooks in many cases to an e-book reader that will store a variety of texts in a format that is light and easy to carry.

Your home PC or notebook can be outfitted with e-book software that will allow the viewing of purchased e-books, but when and where did the e-book get it’s start?

In the late 1960’s a post-graduate student named Alan Kay had the concept of a product he describes as, “a portable interactive personal computer, as accessible as a book.” What made Kay’s statement all the more profound is that it was made prior to the development of a personal computer. Nearly twenty years would pass before something similar to his original vision was developed.

Franklin was the first company to provide an e-book type device. In 1986 Franklin launched a fully functional electronic dictionary. This would be followed in the early 90’s by Sony’s unveiling of the Electronic Book Player. This product used CD-ROM technology to provide book material for viewing.

The limitations of this product gave way to the eBookMan. In both cases consumers were tied to the purchase of discs or cartridges in order to view book materials.

Other products such as Rocket and SoftBook were developed that actually allowed the first credible downloads of e-books in the late 1990’s.

Some e-book readers are even made to look generally like a book with an LCD screen. As electronics have become more sophisticated so, too, have the options for download and viewing.

The way e-books are distributed in portable devices today is generally through portable PC, PDA or other similar devices. Because there is not a standard software platform for all ebooks there may be software that is required for you to read certain ebooks. Since most portable PC devices can easily connect with a PC through a USB cable or docking station it is not especially difficult to download the needed software.

While some of the early generation e-book devices are still available, many consumers find their limitations make them less desirable than a portable PC.

As handheld devices become more sophisticated we are seeing multi-use devices supporting a broad range of communication capabilities. Today it is a rare moment when we see someone without a means of personal communication they carry with them everywhere they go.

In the end, a growing number of e-books are making the trip in portable fashion.

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