Benetech was founded in 1989 by high technology entrepreneur Jim Fruchterman in Palo Alto, California. Benetech is a nonprofit social enterprise organization: it creates technology social ventures, such as Bookshare (providing e-books to people with print disabilities), the Route 66 Literacy Project, the Miradi environmental project management software, Martus (human rights abuse reporting), and the Human Rights Data Analysis Group, which provided statistical evidence in the trial of Slobodan Milosovic.
Benetech was founded under the name of Arkenstone in 1989. It was created to provide reading machines for blind people. During the period 1989-2000, over 35,000 reading machines were sold in sixty countries, reading twelve different languages. In 2000, the Arkenstone reading machine product line was sold to Freedom Scientific, and the nonprofit's name was changed to Benetech. The funding from the asset sale was used to start the Bookshare.org and Martus projects.
- "Developing Information Technology to Meet Social Needs, Innovations Case Narrative: Benetech," by Jim Fruchterman. MIT Press, Innovations, Summer 2008 issue. http://www.benetech.org/about/downloads/INNOVATIONS-3-3_Fruchterman.pdf
- Kendrick, D: Interview in AccessWorld magazine "Fruchterman's Fantasy Becomes Reality". American Foundation for the Blind Press, November 2001.
- An original outside Martus funder was the Open Society Institute through Aspiration, a non-profit software technology assistance initiative created by then OSI Internet Program Director Jonathan Peizer. Martus was the first tool this initiative supported because of its unique focus on human rights tracking.
- Michels, Spencer (2011-03-25). "To Combat Human Rights Abuses, California Company Looks to Computer Code". pbs.org (MacNeil/Lehrer Productions). Retrieved 2011-03-27.
- Bookshare.org: on-line library for people with print disabilities
- Martus Human Rights Database Software
- Human Rights Data Analysis Group
- Miradi Environmental Project Management Software
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