I’ve written about Textfiles.com before, as part of my “Paleo E-books” series. (Boy, if I’d known that “Paleo” would take on an entirely new meaning within a few years, I’d have called it something different.) Another TeleRead contributor had praise for the site as well.
An archive of digital flotsam and jetsam from the BBS era and the early Internet, Textfiles.com is a great place to root through years of history in search of interesting or hilarious material. I’m honestly surprised more people aren’t mining it and sharing the stuff on Facebook the way it used to be passed around from node to node on FidoNet.
But speaking of rooting through years of history, Textfiles.com’s proprietor Jason Scott has been doing some of that himself. Slashdot recently carried a call for volunteers to help him pack up a room full of old user manuals, some dating all the way back to the 1930s, before they could all be thrown away.
Fortunately, the Slashdot Effect worked to good effect in this case. Scott was able to get the help he needed (as well as donations to cover the cost of all the extra boxes he ended up needing), and ended up packing and carting away 1,500 boxes full of manuals. More reports and photos of the operation can be found on Scott’s blog, ascii.textfiles.com.
They probably won’t end up on Textfiles.com, though. In one of his blog posts, Scott notes that he works at the Internet Archive, and via them, “the scanning and hosting of said scans would definitely happen – maybe I’ll do a crowd-funding or action for it.” (He has harsher words for people who suggested using Google’s destructive linear book scanner, though.)
It’s great to hear that Scott was able to get the help he needed. User manuals that old are an important part of our technological and cultural heritage. Hopefully they will soon end up scanned and hosted in a form that users everywhere can access.