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Encyclopędia Britannica
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Encyclopędia Britannica

The Encyclopædia Britannica is the oldest and most prestigious English-language general encyclopedia. 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 1870s 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 2004, the most complete version of Encyclopędia Britannica contains about 120,000 articles with 44 million words. It is published in paper form (32 volumes, list price US$1400, 65,000 articles), online (120,000 articles, brief summaries of articles can be viewed for free, and the full text is available for US$10 per month or US$60 per year for individual subscribers), on CD-ROM (>100,000 articles, US$50), and on DVD-ROM (>100,000 articles, US$50).

The current version of Britannica was written by over 4,000 contributors, including noted scholars such as Milton Friedman, Carl Sagan and Michael DeBakey. 35% of the content of the encyclopedia has been re-written with the last two years.

Edition history

EditionPublishedSize
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 Encyclopædia Britannica and available in the public domain (see 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica;).

The first CD-ROM edition was issued in 1994.

External links