ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

In Realtime: Digital Heaven (And a Call for Donations) —

Imagine an epic of nine years having a happy ending.

I’ve written so much about what is now called the Manuals Plus Collection. Let’s go find those:

If you don’t want to walk those, I’ll make it simple: I got word in 2015 of a collection of manuals inside a business that was getting out of the business, and while a lot of well-meaning people talked a good game, they wanted to cherry-pick (people getting rid of stuff hate cherry-pickers), and I drove down to show I was serious, and after a week of work with MANY volunteers and contributors, we ended up with pallets of documentation inside boxes, numbering something like 50,000-60,000 manuals. (A rough estimate.)

Then they were stored in a storage unit. Then they were stored in a closed coffee house. Then they were transported to California. Then they were stored until last year, 2023.

Last year, a group called DLARC, doing digitizing and indexing projects around ham radio and radio technology, worked with me and the archive to sort out a few pallets of the manuals for products related to the history of radio/network technology, and off they went overseas to be scanned. And as of this month, the evaluated, professionally-scanned and available-to-the-world manuals are beginning to show up in this collection:

The Manuals Plus Collection

Like, it’s happening! It’s happening. It’s happening!

Like anything else open at Internet Archive, you can search the text contents (which are being automatically OCR-ed). You can download the original unformatted jp2 files in a zip. You can download a PDF generated from the jp2 files. You can read it online.

Either this is the first time you’ve heard of all this going on, or you’ve known about it and wondered whatever happened to that mass of manuals.

They’ve been kept in safekeeping, awaiting their moment. We reboxed them, and in fact, transporting them from MD to CA was the last major project I did before my heart attack. It might have been the last thing I ever did for the Archive! That would have been a pretty good way to go out.

But here, in 2024, the final stretch is going on.

And now, the pitch.

The group doing the digitizing does lots of digitizing for the Internet Archive. They are well-paid and legitimate professional contractors who are sent the items, and who do careful scanning to the best of the materials’ ability to provide access to the information, and then do quality checks, and then upload them. When they’re humming, they’re processing a pallet every couple of weeks (with lots of mitigating factors). They’re going to get through the four pallets sent to them from the DLARC sorting very quickly, in other words.

I’ve negotiated a situation where, if money is sent in, the remaining pallets that should be scanned can just be sent along without sorting them for DLARC funds, DLARC will fund any that happen to overlap with their mission, and the rest will just be done.

That’s if money is sent in.

How much money? We’re still working that number out. It’s going to be somewhere in the range of tens of thousands of dollars. So I’m looking for both big-ticket supporters (who can mail me at or individuals. In all cases, you’re just going to donate to the Internet Archive itself, which is at and your donations are tax-deductible. Telling them you’re donating to support this project will help keep the project funded. (There’s a way to leave a comment, and if not, send me a note you did it and how much).

We’ve already sorted these things into pallets, and we know a subset of these (HP and Tektronix) are scanned elsewhere and don’t need to be specifically done this way. This leaves just the historically vital and informationally wonderful manuals dating from the 1940s through the 2000s. As they’re popping up, each one is a gift.

If we make less than we need to scan them all, then we’ll only scan up to where it’s paid for. I believe we can close it out, but if the interest/money isn’t there, then it isn’t there – fair enough. Browse the collection as it grows into thousands of manuals as it is and consider if you want to be part of all that. That’s definitely happening.

But what a happy ending it would be to push all these manuals through the process, and close it up. That’s why I’m popping up to talk about it, and why I hope you would consider contributing towards it, for a non-profit that deserves your support generally.

Meanwhile: It’s happening! It’s happening. It’s happening!!

Categorised as: Uncategorized


  1. J. Peterson says:

    If I send in some $$, can I request they at least -try- to calibrate their cameras so white pages are white instead of gray?

  2. Lewis Collard says:

    That was 8 years ago?? Is it a sign of getting older when I’m repeatedly surprised by the fact that time moves in one direction?

    Oh well. I chipped in back then and I’ve chipped in now. Thank you for rescuing the manuals!

    (The donation went through but the page after that did an error when I tried to enter a comment to attribute it to this project. I’ve emailed the donations-at email to ask them to make sure it’s attributed to Manuals Plus.)

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