March 14, 2012 / 11:14 AM / 7 years ago

Factbox: Britannica goes totally digital

(Reuters) - The Encyclopedia Britannica, which has been in continuous print since it was first published in Scotland in 1768, said it will end publication of its printed editions and continue with digital versions available online.

Here are a few facts about the publication:


* The first edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica was published and printed in Edinburgh for the engraver Andrew Bell and the printer Colin Macfarquhar by “a society of gentlemen in Scotland” and was sold by Macfarquhar at his printing office.

* The work was issued from December 1768 to 1771 with double-columned pages. The parts were bound in three stout quarto volumes of some 2,500 pages, with 160 copperplate engravings by Bell, and dated 1771.

* It became a U.S. company with publishers Horace E. Hooper and Walter M. Jackson purchasing the Encyclopedia Britannica outright from A. and C. Black in 1901.

* The text and illustrations of the 15th edition of Britannica, originally published in 1974, were uploaded to a computerized publishing system in order to make annual revisions of the content easier. Soon other EB products, such as yearbooks, were also edited and revised digitally.

* In 1981, Britannica created the first digital Encyclopedia for LexisNexis and eight years later it produced a shortened multimedia version for CD-ROM.

* Britannica Online, the first Encyclopedia on the Internet, was first posted in 1994. The first version of the entire Britannica on CD-ROM is also published.


* Bloodletting was suggested 98 times as a cure for illnesses in Britannica’s first edition 1768-1771.

* The shortest entry published by Britannica in its 1771 edition was “Woman: “the female of man”.

* Over its quarter of a millennium publishing history, 110 Nobel prize winners have written for Britannica.

— Five U.S. presidents have written for Britannica as well as 20 heads of state.

* Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright worked for Britannica before her diplomatic career.

* Since 1768 the work has published 3.7 trillion words.

* Ernest Shackleton’s crew, while marooned in Antarctica, smoked pages from Britannica.

Source: Reuters/

Reporting by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit

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