The Whole Earth Catalog Online: Stewart Brand’s “Bible” of the 60s Generation

Time to resurrect another suddenly relevant item we first mentioned back in 2009…

Between 1968 and 1972, Stewart Brand published The Whole Earth Catalog. For Kevin Kelly, the Catalog was essentially “a paper-based database offering thousands of hacks, tips, tools, suggestions, and possibilities for optimizing your life.” For Steve Jobs, it was a “Bible” of his generation, a life -transforming publication. Speaking to Stanford graduates in 2005, in what Ken Auletta has called the “Gettysburg Address of graduation-speechism,” Jobs explained why he drew inspiration from this intellectual creation of the 60s counterculture:

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960’s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

The good news is that The Whole Earth Catalog and some related publications are available online. You can read them for free, or download them for a fee. We suggest diving in right here, in Fall 1968, where it all begins. Enjoy….

Note: If you’re having problems find your way around the site, check out the Twitter stream for the The Whole Earth Catalogue. It includes links to various online editions. We’ve also added the text to our collection of Free eBooks.

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Comments (18)
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  • marilee pittman says:

    How fondly I remember The Whole Earth Cataloue. I was a reference source for just about everything under the sun, from fixing, pickling, growing, mending …
    I can see that the time is ripe for a comeback!

  • Andrew Hagan says:

    I revered the WEC originally as well as its subsequent additions. The spin-off quarterly magazines, named Whole Earth Review and also Coevolution Quarterly, continued in print for a couple of decades, I believe the print issue has been gne now for , I am guessing, 5 years.Although it went through different editors, it always contained relevant information for alternative lifestyles and featured visionary authors and poets, interviews and links to fringe alternative lifestyles. I would just like to add that Steward Brand’s latest book,Whole Earth Discipline is a worthy read for anyone interested in how we should proceed to deal with humanity’s further endeavors on this planet, and he re-examines some of the assumptions that he and the green movement have supported all these years. I think he has been at the forefront and cutting edge for so many years, that whether or not you agree with some of his stances, you owe it to his experience and vision to read what he has to say. It was indeed a bible of sorts to my generation, and if you followed up the writers who were often featured, it has kept your mind fed on deep ecology and environmental issues, among many others……

  • Joshua Bevan says:

    I had never seen the Whole Earth Catalog until a few years ago. A friend sent me Steve Jobs’ speech. I fell in love with that message. I even wear a “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” T-shirt Thank you for keeping powerful thoughts like these circulating!

  • funkyfedor says:

    Hello everyone,
    Just wanted to share my story with you..

    I’m a musician from Russia. Three months ago we recorded a song inspired by Steve Job’s commencement address at Stanford University. This song means a lot to us, it was our first song recorded and it literally made the band. And now it has much bigger meaning…

    2 weeks ago we e-mailed Steve asking to give his permission to use his words as our lyrics. But we had no answer…

    Writing the song we wanted people to be inspired by Steve’s message – follow your hearts, don’t be afraid to do things your way, keep searching and don’t settle until you find what you really love…

    Here is the song:

    Thank you if you find it interesting,

  • Robert Hennecke says:

    I thought I posted a message ???

  • Larry Smith says:

    Okay, I’ve been amazed by the cultural force of The Whole Earth Catalog lately. A revolutionary publication (1968-1072) by Stewart Brand and others and which some have compared to the predecessor of the internet. And who do I find agreeing with me but Steve Jobs…This concept of providing tools for change (the publication was subtitled “acces to tools”) is part of the inspiration for my novel The Free Farm (Bottom Dog Press)…in which young people create a working commune in Southern Ohio. Brand and his wife Lois began in the most rudimentary way, by driving around the country going to campuses and welcoming communities with a truck load of such tools and books. We owe them a lot.
    When I wrote the novel, I felt Stewart and Lois should appear in it, and immediately got an endorsement from Stewart… “Go ahead, and use it.” He’s still making tools for us.

  • Scott Slingo says:

    Whole earth catalog led me to California in
    1970 to Pacific School, and got to help build some of the 1st Geodesics for habitats and listen to R.B. Fuller. That
    changed my life forever. Thank you for all
    the cool tools and stories. Scott Slingo
    Kona, and Keaau Hawaii 12/27/2012 Eventually built first permanent Dome in
    Kathmandu, in the monsoon of 1987. Steel
    frame, bolted then welded. Mahalo Plenty

  • Jeffrey L. Lindsey says:

    As a teenager, the Whole Earth Catalog seems to show what your own potential could be and prepare you for life’s challenges.

  • Tim says:

    we need a book like the catalogue but deals with design revolution and future solution; may be I should work on that.

  • Wommel says:

    My catalog 1st took me to the Colorado mt’s. Living in a cabin for 5 yr. of bliss. And still liven the good life.

  • paai says:

    But… but… Apple is everything the Whole Earth Catalog is not and vice versa…

  • Naomi Leago says:

    The Whole Earth catalogue was a fine publication which did much to promote the idea of sustainable living, shame it isn’t in every newsagents today. Just the thing to read on a rainy afternoon. Particularly loved the stuff on building with bamboo, and building sustainably. Thankyou very much Naomi

  • Robert says:

    I read in a whole earth catalog about an outdoor toilet that you take camping. It was called a “DESTROYLET” It had a toilet seat with an area to protect your legs from ‘splashage’ with a fan directly underneath the seat. It was open in the back. I would love to find another whole earth catologue. Nosnegroj Trebor spelled sdrawkcab

  • Lucas Pacheco says:

    I would like a catalog sent to me.

  • Robert Jorgenson says:

    I saw in an early whole earth catalog the destroylet was for sale. It was an outdoor toilet with a toilet seat and a fan under it! I want now to get a picture of it!

  • Roger Stoutenburgh says:

    What catalog today comes closest the the original “Whole Earth Catalog”. I want something like it for my sons gardening interests . Thank you.

    Sincerely, Roger

  • Ashoka Chakeavarthi says:

    Plese can you send pdf i will take and read

  • Meredith says:

    The link to access the catalog appears to be broken. I am getting this error message:

    Parse error: syntax error, unexpected ‘new’ (T_NEW) in /nfs/c02/h04/mnt/28620/domains/ on line 12

    Is it possible to fix this problem? Thank you, Meredith

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