Brewster Kahle, Digital Librarian and Founder of the Internet Archive, has been working to provide universal access to all knowledge for more than twenty-five years.

Since the mid-1980s, Kahle has focused on developing technologies for information discovery and digital libraries. In 1989 Kahle invented the Internet's first publishing system, WAIS (Wide Area Information Server) system and in 1989, founded WAIS Inc., a pioneering electronic publishing company that was sold to America Online in 1995. In 1996, Kahle founded the Internet Archive which may be the largest digital library. At the same time, he co-founded Alexa Internet which helps catalog the Web in April 1996, which was sold to Amazon.com in 1999.

Kahle earned a B.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1982. As a student, he studied artificial intelligence with W. Daniel Hillis and Marvin Minsky. In 1983, Kahle helped start Thinking Machines, a parallel supercomputer maker, serving there as a lead engineer for six years. He serves on the boards of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge, the European Archive, the Television Archive, and the Internet Archive.

See archive.org and openlibrary.org and blog.archive.org

email at brewster@archive.org

twitter at brewster_kahle.

53 Responses to About

  1. John Scott Adams says:

    Horray for the book Archive and its physical backups. While technologies evolve, in the end the text delivery will still depend on mediation from some form of device whose usefulness will eventually expire with the birth of new inventions. Thus the physical book will continue to prove itself evolution’s most hardy keeper of knowledge.

  2. Hi Brewster!

    last Friday we met in Berlin and had a lot of fun talking about fixing the housing system. I like your idea of a Stallmanesque solution to flip the system against itself. Remember we met at breakfast in the Arcotel and at night went together to the C-Base? It was great meeting you!

    As I told you I know from a Danish friend that they have this sort of social housing system where the members of a certain union own a strictly self regulated house. I haven’t yet found the details about it, but some searching gave me some case studies about Danish social housing, see here an English paper: http://rudar.ruc.dk/bitstream/1800/1208/1/Social_housing_in.pdf

    Anyway, let me know how your work on this progresses. In the mean time we continue to set things free in the digital realm.


    Wouter Tebbens
    Free Knowledge InstituteUnlocking the Knowledge Society
    Free Technology Academy>/a>Study Online about Free Technologies

  3. Maria says:

    Hello to everybody from Slovakia,

    I really love this project as it saves the physical books although they can be posted on the Internet. My question to Mr. Kahle is where can I send you books from Slovakia. I have some books which I translated from English or German into Slovak and vice versa. Can you give me an address, please, and I send you some of my translations.
    Thank you and I wish you good luck in your marvellous and ambitious project,

  4. James King says:

    What I would love to see is an internet catalog of all the newspaper microphiches that are available at many local libraries. I’d enjoy reading the sports pages of certain baseball seasons especially (like the 1971 MLB season). Since converting microphiche to data might merely involve scanning, it seems simple. I’d even volunteer to do some!

  5. Jo Duthie says:

    How do I get books to you? I live in West Sacramento and have a lot of books and need to cut down. Many are healing, new age, and counseling/parenting. I’d love to bring them to your warehouse in Richmond.

    Thank you!

    • junegoldsmith says:


      If you are able to bring your books to our San Francisco location on a Friday, you could join us for our weekly open lunch.

      Our address is 300 Funston Ave, San Francisco, CA 94118.

      If you have any questions – please call 415.561.6767

      • Eric Pinto says:

        Dear June,
        Please ask Brewster to comment on the future of digitizing books without opening them. Someday we can work on the 1922 issue but that can hold for another day.

        I had asked Gabe from IA Toronto to let me know if there were any new developments in the technology. My research indicates that there is nothing new in the public domain.

        Hi Gabe,
        Daniel’s DIY project in 2004 has spawned many initiatives but we are still limited by having to open the book…. and 1922!
        I was hoping that you or Brewster would be able to update me on the next generation of volume book scanners that work around the first issue.
        See atiz site as an example of the old technology.


        Eric Pinto


  6. Maria Eduarda Marques de Carvalho says:

    Dear Brewster,
    Good Morning,
    I am Brazilian , I was born on 23 decmber 1965 and live in the state of Pernambuco in Recife (city). I was 15 years proprietress of a large bookstore, but had to close it five years ago as sales dropped enormously in the last year and went to work in Sao Paulo in other books. Now I’m back to my town and I was very happy to discover your work in California with books. I love books and are to be congratulated for their work. Take this opportunity to ask if I can somehow contribute to their work, collaborate or work for your company. Anyway thank you for your attention and once again congratulations on your magnificent work with books. Sincerely, Maria Eduarda ( dudamcarvalho@hotmail.com)

  7. Sourav Roy says:

    How does one donate all one’s books to your collection (Physical Book Collection) posthumously?

  8. Kim says:

    Hello Brewster,

    I heard about your program from someone who attended the OLA superconference this year. I am in the process of heavily weeding my personal book collection. I have a variety of books, including computer programming books. (All books will be in English)
    How can I arrange to have them sent to you.

    Thank you

    • brewster says:

      If you can send them to us in San Francisco, we would love that
      300 Funston Ave, San Francisco, CA 94118

      Or drop them off at the UofToronto scanning center.

      thank you in advance!


      • donn brott says:

        A relative is looking to donate about 40,000 books left by a recently deceased collector. Am thinking of sending them to you but do not have funds for delivery. Some of the books are in Buffalo, NY area and others are in Carmel, CA. What do you suggest?
        Please respond to above email. DB

  9. donna brott says:

    I’v been trying unsuccessfuly to get to ginger@archive.org. to see what arrangements for shipment can be made. Please communicate with me through my email address. My computer refuses to send anything to ginger@archive.org. Is there someone I can talk with? Donna

  10. mark bade says:



  11. Vera Dlugatch, an information junky says:


    I just wanted you to know how wonderful I think it is that you are saving all of these books. I often think of how many people who have read the books before me and what was happening in their lifetime.

    I am a self proclaimed information junky and collect old dictionaries. The old dictionaries have the most information and tell more about people of old than the new ones. I am happy that you have found a way to keep the old and still have the new.

    Johannes Gutenberg; the inventor of the printing press, would be proud.

  12. Vera Dlugatch, an information junky says:

    I am glad that you are preserving physical books because it is our history and as such is part of our present and future. There is a lot that their existence tells us about the people of the time.

    I collect old dictionaries because I can’t stand to see them in the trash.

    Johannes Gutenberg would be proud.

    • brewster says:

      I, personally, have a small collection of dictionaries as well. There are sometimes some whacky definitions. I like looking up hyphen.


  13. Vera Dlugatch, an information junky says:

    I’ll have to check that out.

    Thanks for responding.

  14. Gwenyth Berry says:

    ‘Caught the CBS News program w/Jim Axelrod – what a fantastic idea! I’ve retired from a college library and for some silly reason, I’ve always felt the importance of saving the actual books – I’m so happy that someone else is not only on the same page (woops, pardon that pun) but has the means/expertise to make it happen. Many thanks, Gwenyth Berry

  15. Hi brewster.

    This is heidi.

    How the heck are you? I would love to connect and catch up. I would love to hear about how mary is. I have many fond memories about our days in San Francisco.

    What is the best way to get ahold of you both.

    with love

  16. Millie Cooke says:

    Just wanted to say THANK YOU! for preserving the printed word in book format! As a child I spent my summers immersed in books, traveling to far away places and meeting all kinds of people. Now in my fifties (don’t tell anyone!) I am still enamored of books and cannot conceive of a day without reading! I have a small personal library and love my books as old and dear friends, re-reading old ones and reading new in-between. Thank you again for doing something I wish I myself could do, or be a part of!

  17. Trudy Toll says:

    I enjoyed your presentation at the CLA. I am a Librarian and so of course I thoroughly agreed with your desire to digitize but then have universal access. It’s a shame that Google et al. did all that digitizing then restricted access. I do hope we can swing back to a non commodification of information. Good luck.
    Trudy Toll
    Hayward Public Library

  18. Jeraldine Delucas says:

    Although one programmer has the necessary skills and knowledge to work competently on a problem or even create a program, he or she can only do so much. Creating the source code for an operating system, for example, will require thousands of manhours from a single programmer and most probably, he or she will only be halfway through. There just isn’t enough time for one or even two programmers to work effectively to produce a usable program.,:

    Our personal webpage

  19. Erin Heiden says:

    For Father’s Day this year, I’d like to send you copies of my dad’s military books that he authored as a Civil Engineer for the Navy before his retirement. They are in the Library of Congress already but your archive is different. I’m so proud of his accomplishments & would be honored to know they are archived in a safe place. Where should I send them? Thank you, Erin

  20. Simon Eugster says:

    Thanks for OpenLibrary! Is there a chance that its development is continued? I found duplicate books, but have no way of merging them, or moving a single book into an edtition without copying all content manually.

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  22. Sheree Battershell says:

    I read your interview this morning in my husbands issue of Playboy. (Yes I do read the articles!). Thank you, thank you, thank you for what you are doing. As an avid reader and somewhat history buff, future generations will also thank you and appreciate what you are doing here. So much has been lost of the past and what ever we have in the way of the written word etc must be preserved. Archaeologist in the future will stumble on your collection and bless you.

  23. Patricia Lester says:

    Just saw the New Yorker article. You brought the NSA issues into the quotidian world for me. What a surreal experience and I am impressed by your sheer intestinal fortitude.
    I hadn’t felt a need to comment on the blog before. I have been enjoying it for a while and just wanted to say that it keeps me cognizant of the need to look for ways to be of use in the world.

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  26. K says:

    Brewster, do you have public times, where you’re open to meeting with random people, or office hours where anyone can drop in and talk with you? I’ve downloaded many of the videos of your talks here and have gotten so many ideas for things to try — I wish I could talk to you. I would not have belonged to the groups you’ve spoken to nor been in those places, and I don’t see a list of events you will be speaking at, so it seems unlikely I could catch you at a future speaking event. Just wondering, seriously.

    Also, your contact form requires an e-mail address, which I don’t have anymore, so I’m using my old one that I can’t access anymore. (Why: http://www.correntewire.com/common_household_remedies_request_126#more ) So that’s a problem. As you’re also a board member of EFF, I wish EFF would make the case that an e-mail provider cannot own your mail any more than it can own you or your children, and that it should not be able to restrict your access to it by making up new terms you don’t agree to. And as you’re trying to make a better society by using the nonprofit commons space, it seems to me that one thing worth trying is offering a commons e-mail, like what the USPS was supposed to be providing and constitutionally protecting but isn’t now. (In one of your videos you asked, “How can I be useful to you?” Man, start there!) It would be nice if you could promise privacy security, but I don’t think anyone can online, but you could offer simple common decency: We will not scan or analyze your e-mail or sell your information; it’s you; it’s yours. Goodbye g-mail, goodbye hotmail, goodbye yahoo. Anyway, that was one of my ideas, and without e-mail it’s difficult to talk with you that way.

    Also, so many of the most provoking ideas you’ve laid out in your blog are in the Creating Free and Open Societies post, where comments appear to be closed. I wonder if you might want to reopen them to keep that discussion going?

    Thank you so much, I’m so appreciative of what you’re doing!

    Best wishes,

    K in San Diego

    • brewster says:

      thank you for the note. the Archive in SF is open on fridays to visitors. if you are in SF, pls come by.

      Oh, on closing comments– I found if comments stay open then they get spammed, so it is just trying to relieve the spam load…


  27. Bert Sierra says:

    Hey Brewster —

    I don’t know if you’ll remember me [ 😉 ], but increasingly I’m finding The Internet Archive a huge resource for me for a number of serious research matters. I’m starting up a weekly movement, I hesitate to call it a protest movement as it has more to do with open debate and discourse. Part of our goals is to provide MPEG-4 video archives of all of the speeches and (non-copyright) musical performances at our weekly events.

    We’ve already made the front page of The Prescott Courier in our little Arizona Cow Town, and once I am able to catch my breath a bit I am firmly committed to spreading this little idea of ours to other towns. So, as you can imagine, the weekly gigabytes will soon add up to multiple terabytes of video data that we are looking to archive.

    So my question is this: what would be the appropriate yearly donation to The Internet Archive per GB (or TB) of video data we upload? I would hate to have all of the costs be foisted on you and your sponsors.

    I’ll e-mail you privately on this, but also thought that #TheLinkAZ might be of interest to others as well.


    — “Blind Man” Bert Sierra

    • brewster says:

      Is this Bert from MIT? Yow! Please write to me brewster (at) archive.org

      As for how much things cost– we estimate about $2k/TB for a long time. How long is long is hard to say. This assumes exponential decrease in storage cost, which is a bit iffy at the moment.


  28. Hi Brewster, We have not yet met but our two nonprofit firms (NFH = Northbay Family Homes, and SALT = Suburban Alternatives Land Trust) both headquartered in Novato, CA were the consultants to EFF to set up your EAH (employer assisted housing) Program, so several EFF employees could buy their first homes within an hour’s commute of your SF offices.

    I worked at IBM-San Jose in about 1964 .. right as they were planning to release System 360 (and just after CDC released system 7400 ? right number?). I had to learn machine language to work on System 1620’s in our office (Product Test, we were designed and supposed to be the worst possible customer of any new IBM product before release to any actual customer.

    Anyway, I love what you are doing both at the Archive and in other work at EFF .. old “real books” do not need new software or machines to be read .. maybe some sort of dictionary to understand words in or out of context, but not machines that no longer exist, nor “techies” who no longer remember programming languages.

    Let’s get together sometime, down at Funston or up here in Novato, where I have lived since 1974. Cheers, ~ Clark (my email address: clark@nfh.org )

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  30. Tim Aaronson says:

    RE: http://brewster.kahle.org/2015/05/17/how-about-3-billion-people-all-living-the-good-life/

    Thanks for speaking out on this issue. Little sense in preserving the intellectual history of the species if it is just breeding itself to oblivion.

    And in a timely coincidence … http://www.worldvasectomyday.org
    Third annual World Vasectomy Day on November 13!

    “The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.”

    “Can you think of any problem in any area of human endeavor on any scale, from microscopic to global, whose long-term solution is in any demonstrable way aided, assisted, or advanced by further increases in population, locally, nationally, or globally?” – Prof. Al Bartlett-

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  35. Youknowwho says:

    Internetarchive are nothing but a bunch of pirates, hiding as librarians. You’re not a librarian you’re a pirate. And you refuse to take down my copyrighted material after 3 polite requests. And then they bought my old domain name and dropped all my articles on them. Pathetic.

    But go ahead, keep on abusing your power. I don’t mind. In fact, I start to enjoy it, because I have nothing left to loose.

  36. Kim Gardner says:

    Dear Brewster,
    On the topic of secure communication, Switzerland still has a strong reputation with respect to privacy in spite of the recent restrictions that have been placed on it (mainly by the US). Also their status as a politically neutral and sovereign country makes me feel that my privacy would be better protected by any solution that is coming out of a country that is not in any way under US government jurisdiction. Hence, you may want to take a look at this solution: https://threema.ch/en
    All the best,

    • Thank you for the post, and Switzerland is unique in the world as its position in nuetrality. I used Threema a few years ago, but most of my friends are now on Signal.

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  38. Ugwuoke Benedict Malachy says:

    I would like to partner with your company for Data archive in west Africa starting from Nigeria. I need it so urgent. kindly send me the partnership requirements. I want it to become national Data Collection and archive centre.

    • Hi Ugwuoke,
      I am the Director of Partnerships for the Internet Archive. My name is Wendy Hanamura and I can be reached at wendy@archive.org. Can you email me so we can be in touch about your project in Nigeria? We’d like to help if we can.

      Wendy Hanamura
      Director of Partnerships
      Internet Archive

  39. Hi Ugwuoke,
    I am the Director of Partnerships for the Internet Archive. My name is Wendy Hanamura and I can be reached at wendy@archive.org. Can you email me so we can be in touch about your project in Nigeria? We’d like to help if we can.

    Wendy Hanamura
    Director of Partnerships
    Internet Archive

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