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Encyclopędia Britannica

Encyclopędia Britannica is an encyclopedia written in the English language. In 1994 the New York Times ([1]) described it as '...the nation's [America's] oldest and most prestigious reference work'. Its articles are commonly considered accurate, reliable and well-written.

A product of the Scottish enlightenment, it was originally published in Edinburgh by Adam and Charles Black beginning in the 18th century. Unlike the French Encyclopédie Britannica was an extremely conservative publication. Later editions were usually dedicated to the reigning monarch. The publication moved from Scotland to London and became associated with The Times newspaper in the 1870's for its ninth and tenth editions. For the eleventh edition the publication became associated with Cambridge University. The trademark and publication rights were sold after the 11th edition to Sears Roebuck and it moved to Chicago where it has remained. The current publisher is Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. (properly spelt with æ, the ae-ligature), which now owns a trademark on the word "Britannica".

As of 2003, the Encyclopędia Britannica contains 65,000 articles with 44 million words. It is published in paper form (32 volumes, list price $1400), online (where brief summaries of articles can be viewed for free, and the full text is available for $10 per month or $60 per year for individual subscribers), on CD-ROM ($50), and on DVD-ROM.

Edition history

1st 1768-1771 3 vol.
2nd 1777-1784 10 vol.
3rd 1788-1797, 1801 sup. 18 vol. + 2 sup.
4th 1801-1809 20 vol.
5th 1815 20 vol.
6th 1820-1823, 1815-1824 sup. 20 vol. + 2 sup.
7th 1830-1842 21 vol.
8th 1852-1860 21 vol. + index
9th 1870-1890 24 vol. + index. (1)
10th 1902-1903 9th ed. + 9 sup. (2)
11th 1910-1911 29 vol. (3)
12th 1921-1922 11th ed. + 3 sup.
13th 1926 11th ed.+ 6 sup.
14th 1929-1973 24 vol.
15th 1974-1984 28 vol.
16th 1985- 32 vol.

vol. = volume, sup. = supplement

(1)  9th ed. featured articles by notables of the day, such as James Maxwell on Electricity and Magnetism, and William Thomson (who became Lord Kelvin) on Heat.
(2) 10th ed. added a maps volume and an index volume
(3) 11th ed. Considered to be the classic edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica and available in the public domain (see 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica).

The first CD-ROM edition was issued in 1994.


2) New York Times, February 8 1994. Part 1 of the business section in article reporting Britannica's announcement of their going online.

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