World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Brewster Kahle

Article Id: WHEBN0000088379
Reproduction Date:

Title: Brewster Kahle  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Internet Archive, Lists of Internet Archive's collections, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London (collection), Internet Hall of Fame, Open Library
Collection: 1960 Births, Access to Knowledge Activists, American Computer Businesspeople, American Internet Celebrities, American Philanthropists, American Technology Company Founders, Articles Containing Video Clips, Businesspeople from San Francisco, California, Businesspeople in Information Technology, Fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Intellectual Property Activism, Internet Archive Collectors, Living People, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Alumni, People from Scarsdale, New York, Scarsdale High School Alumni
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Brewster Kahle

Brewster Kahle
Brewster Kahle in 2009
Kahle in 2009
Born (1960-10-22) October 22, 1960 [1]
New York City, New York, U.S.
Residence San Francisco
Alma mater Massachusetts Institute of Technology (BS)
Occupation Digital librarian
Computer engineer
Internet entrepreneur
Employer Internet Archive, Electronic Frontier Foundation
Known for Development of WAIS
Co-founder of Alexa Internet
Founder of Internet Archive

Brewster Kahle ( ;[2] born October 22, 1960)[1] is an American computer engineer, Internet entrepreneur, internet activist, advocate of universal access to all knowledge, and digital librarian.[3] He is the founder of the Internet Archive, the Internet Credit Union, Alexa and Thinking Machines and a member of the Internet Hall of Fame.


  • Biography 1
    • Digitization advocacy 1.1
    • Other benefits of digitization 1.2
    • Physical media 1.3
  • Awards and appointments 2
  • Publications 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Kahle grew up in Scarsdale, New York, and went to Scarsdale High School. His father was a mechanical engineer.[4] He graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1982 with a Bachelor of Science in computer science and engineering, where he was a member of the Chi Phi Fraternity.[5][6] The emphasis of his studies was artificial intelligence; he studied under Marvin Minsky and W. Daniel Hillis.[5]

After graduation, he joined Thinking Machines team, where he was the lead engineer on the company's main product, the Connection Machine, for six years (1983–1989). There, he and others developed the WAIS system, the Internet's first publishing and distributed search system and a precursor to the World Wide Web. In 1992, he co-founded, with Bruce Gilliat, WAIS, Inc. (sold to AOL in 1995 for $15 million), and, in 1996, Alexa Internet[7] (sold to in 1999 for $250 million of stock). At the same time as he started Alexa, he founded the Internet Archive, which he continues to direct. In 2001, he implemented the Wayback Machine, which allows public access to the World Wide Web archive that the Internet Archive has been gathering since 1996. Kahle was inspired to create the Wayback Machine after visiting the offices of Alta Vista, where he was struck by the immensity of the task being undertaken and achieved: to store and index everything that was on the Web. Kahle states: "I was standing there, looking at this machine that was the size of five or six Coke machines, and there was an 'aha moment' that said, 'You can do everything.'"[8]

Kahle is a member of the Internet Hall of Fame, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and serves on the boards of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge, the European Archive (now Internet memory) and the Television Archive. He is a member of the advisory board of the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program of the Library of Congress, and is a member of the National Science Foundation Advisory Committee for Cyberinfrastructure. In 2010 he was given an honorary doctorate in computer science from Simmons College, where he studied library science in the 1980s.

Kahle and his wife, Mary Austin, run the Kahle/Austin Foundation. The Foundation supports the Free Software Foundation for its GNU project,[9] among other projects, with a total giving of about 4.5 million dollars in 2011.[10]

In 2012, Kahle and banking veteran Jordan Modell established Internet Archive Federal Credit Union to serve people in New Brunswick, N.J. and Highland Park, New Jersey, as well as participants in programs that alleviate poverty in those areas.[11]

Digitization advocacy

Brewster Kahle of the Internet Archive talks about archiving operations

Kahle has been critical of Google's book digitization, especially of Google's exclusivity in restricting other search engines digital access to the books they archive. Kahle describes Google's 'snippet' feature as a means of tip-toeing around copyright issues, and further expresses his frustration in the lack of a decent loaning system for digital materials. He states the digital transition, thus far, has gone from local control to central control, non-profit to for-profit, diverse to homogeneous, and from "ruled by law" to "ruled by contract". Kahle states that even public-domain material published before 1923, and not bound by copyright law, is still bound by contracts and requires a permission-based system from Google to be distributed or copied. Kahle reasons that this trend has emerged for a number of reasons: distribution of information favoring centralization, the economic cost of digitizing books, the issue of staffing at libraries not having the technical knowledge to build these services, and the decision of the administrators to outsource information services.[12]

Kahle states:

It's not that expensive. For the cost of 60 miles of highway, we can have a 10 million-book digital library available to a generation that is growing up reading on-screen. Our job is to put the best works of humankind within reach of that generation. Through a simple Web search, a student researching the life of John F. Kennedy should be able to find books from many libraries, and many booksellers—and not be limited to one private library whose titles are available for a fee, controlled by a corporation that can dictate what we are allowed to read.[13]

Other benefits of digitization

Kahle explains that apart from the value of an historian's use of these digital archives; that they might also serve to help with some common infrastructure complaints about the Internet, such as adding reliability to "404 Document not found" errors, contextualizing information to make it more trust-worthy, and maintaining navigation to aid in finding related content. Kahle also explains the importance of packaging enough meta-data (information about the information) into the archive, since we don't know what future researchers will be interested in, and that it might be more problematic in finding data rather than preserving data.[14]

Physical media

"Knowledge lives in lots of different forms over time", Kahle has said. "First it was in people's memories, then it was in manuscripts, then printed books, then microfilm, CD-ROMS, now on the digital internet. Each one of these generations is very important." Voicing a strong reaction to the idea of books simply being thrown away, and inspired by the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Kahle envisions collecting one copy of every book ever published. "We're not going to get there, but that's our goal", he said. "We want to see books live forever." Pointing out that even digital books have a physical home on a hard drive somewhere, he sees saving the physical artefacts of information storage as a way to hedge against the uncertainty of the future. (Alongside the books, Kahle plans to store the Internet Archive's old servers, which were replaced in 2010.) He began by having conventional shipping containers modified as climate-controlled storage units. Each container can hold about 40,000 volumes, the size of a branch library. So far, Kahle has gathered about 500,000 books. He thinks the warehouse itself is large enough to hold about a million titles, with each one given a barcode that identifies the cardboard box, pallet and shipping container in which it resides. A given book may be retrieved in about an hour, and are not to be loaned out but used to verify contents recorded in another medium. Book preservation experts say he'll have to contend with vermin and about a century's worth of books printed on wood pulp paper that decays over time because of its own acidity. Peter Hanff, acting director of the Bancroft Library, the special collections and rare books archive at the University of California, Berkeley, says that just keeping the books on the west coast of the US will save them from the climate fluctuations that are the norm in other parts of the country.[15]

Awards and appointments

  • Bachelor of Science – Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1982
  • National Academy of Engineering, 2010
  • American Academy of Arts and Sciences, member 2005
  • Library of Congress NDIIP advisory board
  • NSF Cyber Infrastructure advisory board
  • 2004 Paul Evan Peters Award from the Coalition of Networked Information (CNI).[16]
  • 2008 Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award from the University of Illinois
  • 2007 Knowledge Trust Honors award recipient
  • Public Knowledge, IP3 award recipient
  • 2009 "50 Visionaries Changing Your World", Utne Reader[17]
  • 2010 Honorary Doctor of Laws, University of Alberta,[18]
  • 2010 Zoia Horn Intellectual Freedom Award[19][20]
  • 2012 Software and Information Industry of America Peter Jackson Award SIIA Peter Jackson Award
  • 2012 Inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame.[21]
  • 2013 LITA/Library Hi Tech Award for Outstanding Communication in Library and Information Technology[22]


  • Responsible Party: Brewster Kahle: A Library of the Web on the Web New York Times, September 8, 2002
  • O'Reilly Network: How the Wayback Machine Works – 21 January 2002
  • O'Reilly Network: Brewster Kahle on the Internet Archive and People's Technology – Interview by Lisa Rein. 22 January 2004
  • ACM Queue: A Conversation with Brewster Kahle – June 2004
  • Slate – The Archivist: Brewster Kahle made a copy of the Internet. Now, he wants your files. – 7 April 2005
  • San Francisco Chronicle – A Man's vision: World Library Online – 22 November 2005
  • Brewster's Keynote at Wikimania 2006
  • B. Kahle and his relationship to Google (Cnet Article: Grant Funds Open-Source Challenge to Google Library) – 21 December 2006
  • Mention in San Francisco Chronicle
  • The Economist "The internet's librarian" – 5 March 2009
  • "A Book Grab by Google" by Brewster Kahle (Washington Post Op-Ed 19.May.2009)
  • Lend Ho! Brewster Kahle Is a Thorn in Google's Side Forbes November 16, 2009
  • Brewster Kahle named one of the "50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World (Utne Reader November–December 2009)
  • Internet Archive founder turns to new information storage device – the book, The Guardian, 1 August 2011
  • Cobweb: Can the Internet Be Archived? New Yorker, January 26, 2015
  • The Creator of the Internet Archive Should Be the Next Librarian of Congress Slate, September 10, 2015
  • Science Friday, 1993: The Future of the Internet Brewster Kahle, then President of WAIS, participates in the discussion.
  • Library of Congress, Public Access to Digital Materials (RealVideo and slides) – 20 November 2002
  • CSPAN – Digital Futures – Universal Access to All Knowledge – Video program of Brewster Kahle. 13 December 2004
  • NerdTV Interview (video, audio, and transcript available) – 18 August 2005
  • IT Conversations – Universal Access to All Knowledge – Audio program featuring Brewster Kahle. 16 December 2004
  • IT Conversations – Tech Nation interview with Dr. Moira Gunn – 7 February 2006
  • PBS NerdTV – Episode #4 An Interview with Brewster Kahle with Robert X. Cringley – 27 September 2005
  • Los Angeles Times – [2] with Patt Morrison – 28 January 2012

See also


  1. ^ a b Alexa Internet profile, via Last accessed November 24, 2010
  2. ^ Schwartz, John, "Page by Page History of the Web", The New York Times, October 29, 2001
  3. ^ Benny Evangelista (October 13, 2012). "Brewster Kahle's Internet Archive".  
  4. ^ A Library as Big as the World, Retrieved January 5, 2015.
  5. ^ a b About Brewster Kahle's Blog. Retrieved July 11, 2011.
  6. ^ Internet Nostalgia | MIT Admissions MIT Admissions. Retrieved July 11, 2011.
  7. ^ Kellogg, Carolyn (August 5, 2011). "Archiving every book ever published". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 18 August 2011. 
  8. ^ TONG, JUDY (September 8, 2002). "RESPONSIBLE PARTY – BREWSTER KAHLE; A Library Of the Web, On the Web". New York Times. Retrieved 18 August 2011. 
  9. ^ "Thank GNUs 2011". Free Software Foundation. Retrieved January 19, 2012. 
  10. ^ Form 990 data from
  11. ^ Morrison, David (September 5, 2012). "Internet Pioneer, Former Banker Behind Newest CU".  
  12. ^ Brewster Kahle. Brewster Kahle's Michigan Talk (Videotape). Ann Arbor, MI at the John Seely Brown Symposium: Archived from the original (SWF FLV FLASH OGG MPEG4 WMA WindowsMedia) on October 22, 2008. Retrieved August 18, 2011. 
  13. ^ Singel, Ryan (May 19, 2009). "Stop the Google Library, Net’s Librarian Says".  
  14. ^ Kahle, Brewster. "Archiving the Internet". Scientific American – March 1997 issue. Retrieved 19 August 2011. 
  15. ^ "Internet Archive founder turns to new information storage device – the book". culture. The Guardian. 1 August 2011. Archived from the original (news) on 2012-08-21. Retrieved 22 August 2012. Brewster Kahle, the man behind a project to file every webpage, now wants to gather one copy of every published book 
  16. ^ "Paul Evan Peters 2004 Award Winner: Brewster Kahle",
  17. ^ "50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World", Utne Reader, November–December 2009
  18. ^ "Current Honorary Degree Recipients: Spring 2010 Convocation", University of Alberta
  19. ^ Zoia_Horn_Intellectual_Freedom_Award
  20. ^ "Brewster Kahle receives the Zoia Horn Intellectual Freedom Award". 
  21. ^ 2012 Inductees, Internet Hall of Fame website. Last accessed April 24, 2012
  22. ^ Brewster Kahle to be Honored with 2013 LITA/Library Hi Tech Award, May 14, 2013. ALA

External links

  • Personal Blog
  • Works by or about Brewster Kahle at Internet Archive
    • Biography at The Internet Archive
    • Talks and Writings of Brewster Kahle at the Internet Archive
  • Works by Brewster Kahle at Open Library
  • Works by Brewster Kahle at Project Gutenberg
  • Works by Brewster Kahle at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
  • Brewster Kahle at TED
  • Appearances on C-SPAN, alternate link
  • Brewster interview with Leo Laporte at Triangulation (
  • Works by or about Brewster Kahle in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
  • Brewster Kahle interviewed on the TV show Triangulation on the network
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.