Imagine the Internet without the Web. Imagine that there is no Google or similar search engine. Imagine that the cutting edge Internet applications are e-mail and LISTSERVs, FTP, and Telnet (terminal sessions). Imagine that the Internet is made up of a number of different networks, and that the connections between them are not always transparent. Imagine that no established publisher has even experimented with an e-journal.
That was the situation in June 1989 when I launched PACS-L, a LISTSERV mailing list. PACS-L was one of the first library-oriented mailing lists, and it was unusual in that it had a broad subject focus (public-access computer systems in libraries). Although PACS-L's greatest contribution may have been in raising librarians' awareness of the importance and potential of the then fledgling Internet, it was also the platform on which my initial scholarly digital publishing efforts were based.
In August 1989, I launched The Public-Access Computer Systems Review, one of the first e-journals on the Internet and the first open access journal in the field of library and information science. It was freely available, allowed authors to retain their copyrights, and had special copyright provisions for noncommercial use. Issues were announced via e-mail, and articles were distributed as ASCII files from a LISTSERV. Starting in 1994, ASCII articles were also distributed via a Gopher server. In 1995, a website was established, and articles were also distributed as HTML files.
I edited the The Public-Access Computer Systems Review through 1996. By the end of that year, there had been over 4.2 million requests for the journal's files.
In 1996, I established the Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography, an open access e-book that had 79 subsequent versions. It was initially published in the HTML, PDF, and Word formats.
These early digital publishing projects were sponsored by the University of Houston Libraries, which maintains an archive of ASCII articles from The Public-Access Computer Systems Review (http://journals.tdl.org/pacsr/index.php/pacsr). The PACS-L archive was deleted in 2013 when the list shut down.
In 1995, I established Digital Scholarship (http://digital-scholarship.org/), and I began to publish open access works under Creative Commons licenses. By 2013, Digital Scholarship was publishing PDF books, inexpensive paperback books, XHTML bibliographies, weblogs, Twitter streams, and other works.
The last version of the Scholarly Electronic Publishing Bibliography was published in 2011 (http://digital-scholarship.org/sepb/sepb.html). From 1996 through 2011, the e-book had over 11.9 million file requests.
From April 2005 through May 2013, Digital Scholarship had over 12.2 million visitors from 229 counties and over 58.7 million file requests.