| 1913 advertisement
for the 11th
edition, with the slogan When in doubt - "look it up" in the Encyclopædia Britannica
The Encyclopædia Britannica (properly spelt with æ, the ae-ligature) is the oldest 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. Horace Everett Hooper was publisher from 1897 to 1922. For the eleventh edition the publication became associated with the University of Cambridge, also in England. The trademark and publication rights were sold after the 11th edition to Sears Roebuck and it moved to Chicago, Illinois, United States. Sears Roebuck offered it as a gift to the University of Chicago in 1941. William Benton figured as publisher from 1943 to his death in 1973, followed by his widow Helen Hemingway Benton until her own death in 1974. In January 1996 it was purchased by billionaire Swiss financier Jacqui Safra.
Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. now owns a trademark on the word "Britannica." As of 2004, the most complete version of Encyclopædia Britannica contains about 120,000 articles, with 44 million words, and a comprehensive index, the first of its kind for a major encyclopedia. It is published in paper form (32 volumes containing 65,000 articles, list price US$1400), 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), and on CD-ROM or DVD-ROM (more than 100,000 articles, US$50).
Encyclopaedia Britannica 2005
Deluxe Edition CD_ROM
The current version of Britannica was written by over 4,000 contributors, including noted scholars such as Milton Friedman, Carl Sagan, and Michael DeBakey. Thirty-five percent of the content of the encyclopedia has been re-written within the last two years. Under the influence of the director of planning, Mortimer Adler, the current, 15th edition is published not as one alphabetical sequence of volumes but multiple sets that covered topics in different degrees of depth: The current edition is divided into a two volume index, a 10-volume Micropædia which contains short articles, a 19-volume Macropædia for longer articles, plus one volume called Propædia that provides a structured hierarchy to all the information in the set.
Dale Hoiberg is the publication's current editor-in-chief. Among his predecessors were Hugh Chisholm (1903-1913, 1920_1924), James Louis Garvin (1926-1932), Franklin Henry Hooper (1932-1938), Walter Yust (1938_1960), Harry S. Ashmore (1960-1963), Warren E. Preece (1964-1975), and Robert McHenry (1992-1997). Ted Pappas is the current executive editor. Earlier holders of that position were John V. Dodge (1950-1964) and Philip W. Goetz. Don Yannias, former CEO of the company when it was "hemorrhaging money," serves on Britannica's Board of Directors.
|Edition notes |
vol. = volume, sup. = supplement
19th 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.
210th ed. added a maps volume and an index volume.
311th ed. Considered to be the classic edition of Encyclopædia Britannica and available in the public domain (see 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica). This was the first edition to be published all at once instead of volume by volume.
4 This edition was the first to be kept up to date by continual (usually annual) revision.
5 The 15th edition (introduced as "Britannica 3") was published as multiple sets: the 10_volume Micropædia (containing short articles and served as an index), the 19_volume Macropædia, plus the Propædia (see text).
6In 1985 the system was modified by removing the index function from the Micropædia and adding a separate two_volume index; the Macropædia articles were further consolidated into fewer, larger ones (for example, the previously separate articles about the 50 U.S. states were all included into the "United States of America" article), with some medium_length articles moved to the Micropædia.
The first CD_ROM edition was issued in 1994. At that time also an online version was offered for paid subscription. In 1999 this was offered for free, and no revised print versions appeared. The experiment was ended, however, in 2001 and a new printed set was issued in 2002.
- Herman Kogan, The Great EB: The Story of the Encyclopedia Britannica (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958)
- H. Einbinder, The Myth of the Britannica (New York: Grove Press, 1964)