10 Jan Brewster Kahle
A passionate advocate for public Internet access and a successful entrepreneur, Brewster Kahle has spent his career intent on a singular focus: providing Universal Access to All Knowledge. He is the founder and Digital Librarian of the Internet Archive, one of the largest digital libraries in the world, serving three to four million patrons each day. With 170 staff members in the United States, Canada, England, and China and digitization centers at the Library of Congress, Princeton University, University of Toronto, and Boston Public Library, the Internet Archive works with more than 500 library and university partners to create a free digital library, accessible to all.
Since founding the Internet Archive in 1996, Kahle continues to guide all aspects of the organization including policy, strategic direction, and the development of new technologies. He is a prolific writer, speaker, and advocate for ways we can create technology that reflects our deepest values: privacy, security, and accessibility. Under Kahle’s leadership, the Internet Archive launched the Wayback Machine, the only public archive of the Web, and archive.org, remains one of the 300 most popular websites in the world.
Soon after graduating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he studied artificial intelligence, Kahle helped found the company Thinking Machines, a parallel supercomputer maker. He is an Internet pioneer, creating the Internet’s first publishing system called Wide Area Information Server (WAIS) in 1989. With The Wall Street Journal as its first customer, the company helped revolutionize the electronic publishing market. Kahle eventually sold the company to America Online. In 1996, Kahle co-founded Alexa Internet, with technology that helps catalog the Web, selling it to Amazon in 1999.
Kahle and his wife, Mary Austin started the Kahle-Austin Foundation, which supports the Internet Archive along with other non-profit causes. Kahle is a founder of the Open Content Alliance, a group of organizations contributing to a permanent, publicly accessible archive of digitized texts. He is 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, and the Television Archive. He serves on the advisory board of the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program of the Library of Congress, and the National Science Foundation Advisory Committee for Cyberinfrastructure.
Elected to the Internet Hall of Fame, Kahle is also the recipient of the 2004 IP3 Award from Public Knowledge, the 2009 Free Software Foundation Award, and the Paul Evan Peters Award, which is bestowed jointly by the Coalition of Networked Information, the Association of Research Libraries, and EDUCAUSE. For his innovative use of technology and continuous efforts to provide universal access to all human knowledge, Simmons College presented Kahle with the degree Doctor of Computer Science, honoris causa. In 2009, he was named by Utne Reader as one of the “50 Visionaries Changing Your World.”