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Encyclopędia Britannica

Encyclopędia Britannica is the most prestigious encyclopedia in the English language. 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. The trademark and publication rights were sold after the 11th edition to an American company, which is the current publisher. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. (properly spelt with æ, the ae-ligature) now owns a trademark on the word "Britannica". The company is based in Chicago.

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), and on CD-ROM ($50).

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 the classic edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica; available in the public domain (see 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica).

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