Jason Scott has something of a reputation. He’s a historian who works for the Internet Archive, and he’s known in some circles as the guy who can save bits of history right before they disappear.
So when he found out that a small store in Maryland that sold manuals for machinery was going out of business, and was going to get rid of its collection of nearly 200,000 obscure booklets in just a few days, Scott got to work.
He got to Maryland on a Friday to check out the stockpile at Manuals Plus. By Wednesday of the next week he had rallied over 70 volunteers to put together 1,600 boxes of manuals (nobody counted exactly how many booklets fill those boxes, but the guess is between 50,000 and 75,000) that now sit in three storage containers. The whole endeavor cost about $9,000, most of which was donated to the project.
Manuals Plus is in Finksburg, 30 miles northwest of Baltimore. The company is a relic from a time when a store of its kind was necessary. It specialized in electronic-test and measurement equipment—machines like oscilloscopes, multimeters, and video-test equipment. (Not only did Manuals Plus sell manuals, but it also installed cellphone towers and refurbished power tools.) “We maintain the World’s largest stock of previously owned original and reproduced, manufacturer-licensed, test-equipment manuals. If you're looking for manuals from Agilent, Hewlett-Packard - HP, Tektronix - TEK, Fluke, Wavetek, Wiltron, GenRad, IFR, Systron-Donner, or any of hundreds of others, you've come to the right place,” the store’s website boasts.