In 1992, Robert Schmidt and Ellen Black attended the United Astrology Congress, a conference hosted by the three primary international astrological organizations. There they conferred with Robert Hand and Robert Zoller on the feasibility of a translation project in the history of astrology. As a result of this meeting, the organization ARHAT was formed (standing for the Association for the Retrieval of Historic Astrological Texts). ARHAT was effectively a declaration of intention to translate into English the entire corpus of writings in the western astrological tradition, surviving mainly in Greek, Arabic, and Latin.
The fruition of ARHAT came a year later, in 1993, when Robert Schmidt developed the plan for Project Hindsight (drawing on the name Hindsight, the title of earlier journal on the history of mathematics published by The Golden Hind Press) and presented it to Robert Hand, who announced the project to the astrological community at an astrological conference later that spring.
The project was to be a pilot experiment in privately funding scholarly research within a special interest group, such as the astrological community. The translations were to be done by astrologers possessing the requisite language skills, who would be paid for their work. The translations were sold by subscription to individual astrologers, who supported the project for a variety of reasons. Some wished to use the ancient astrological methods in their own practices, or at least thought that future generations of astrologers might find them valuable. Others simply took pride in supporting a scholarly venture that could bring honor to the astrological community and possibly lead to its being taken seriously by the academic world. At its peak, this initial phase of Project Hindsight had around 500 subscribers worldwide.
The design of the translation program was also unique, in that anticipated the need for continual revision of the translations. Because ancient astrology was so little understood, it was obvious that a final or definitive translated edition of any individual work should not be issued until the obscure passages could be corrected or explicated against similar passages in other astrological treatises. Accordingly, the larger treatises were broken up into smaller "units" of translation, which could be issued fairly quickly, providing for continual feedback from the subscribers. The units of translation were published in a relatively impermanent soft-cover format, and only a small inventory was maintained, so that they could be continually revised. Only at the end of the project would the translations be issued in final hardback form.
The co-founders of the project, Robert Schmidt, Ellen Black, Robert Zoller, and Robert Hand had the following primary responsibilities: Robert Hand acted as general editor of the translations, annotating them for a modern astrological audience and writing popular-level prefaces for each of them. Robert Schmidt did the Greek translations and contributed his expertise in the fine points of Greek and Scholastic thought. Ellen Black worked at library research and the acquisition of the original texts from which the translations were made. At the beginning of the project, Robert Zoller had the role of principal Latin translator, although he left in the first year; whereupon Robert Hand began to do the Latin translations with the editorial assistance of Robert Schmidt, who was also an experienced Latin translator.
In addition, Robert Hand served as liaison and promoter of the project to the astrological community. Ellen Black handled customer relations and day-to-day business matters. Robert Schmidt supervised the book production. Ellen Black supplied the initial funding necessary to obtain equipment and texts. The translations were published by The Golden Hind Press. As owners of the press, Robert Schmidt and Ellen Black had the sole financial responsibility for the project and frequently subsidized it out of their own resources.
Ellen Black organized three major astrological conferences (called "Conclaves") to promote and publicize the findings of the project. These were highly successful, week-long marathon events, unique in their combination of practical astrological tutorial and theoretical inquiry.
In April of 1997, Robert Hand resigned from his position as general editor of the project to set up his own commercial translation enterprise, for which he revived the name ARHAT. Consequently, Project Hindsight and ARHAT no longer have any connection to one another. Robert Schmidt assumed the position of general editor in addition to his duties as translator and publisher.
In March of 1998, Robert Schmidt and Ellen Black formed The Phaser Foundation, Inc, a non-profit "think-tank" dedicated to research in the problem of astrology and other equally challenging problems. In October of 1998, they officially embedded the research arm of Project Hindsight in the PHASER Foundation, in the hopes of obtaining additional funding for this research in the form of grants and donations. They were successful in obtaining sufficient funding to continue the research of Project Hindsight up to the present.