Encyclopedia Britannica

About the Encyclopedia Britannica

Origins of the Encyclopedia Britannica

The Encyclopedia Britannica was born in the mid 18th century in Edinburgh, Scotland. Its foundation was solidly built on the Scottish Enlightenment amidst the greatest names of the British intellectuals of the time. The first Encyclopedia Britannica was published by Colin Macfarquhar and Andrew Bell, founders of the "Society of Gentlemen", a group of intellectuals assembled with the purpose of writing, compiling and editing a reference work for the Sciences and Arts.

The first edition of the Britannica was divided into many different sections, one at time, called "fascicles". It was first published in a little over three years (beginning in 1768) and it had immense popularity being quickly sold-out. This fact encouraged the second publication of the Encyclopedia Britannica, which now took the form of a 10-volume reference work between the years of 1777 and 1784.

Thomas Dobson was the person responsible for bringing the Encyclopedia Britannica to the United Stated which also soon found its place among American intellectuals such as Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.

The Encyclopedia Britannica in the Twentieth Century

The first edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica in the Twentieth Century was finished in 1911, a joint venture between its now America owners Horace Hooper and Walter Jackson and the Cambridge University press. Some believe this publication of the Encyclopedia Britannica served as one of the main scholarly achievements of British intellectual pursuits and even of the British Empire itself.

By the early and late 1920s, the Encyclopedia Britannica commemorated its twelfth and thirteenth editions. By then, it managed to assemble this era's intellectual celebrities as contributors such as Albert Einstein, Harry Houdini and Sigmund Freud, to name but a few.

In 1981 the Encyclopedia Britannica was one of the first publishing houses to pioneer an electronic version and new media. In 1989, it launched the first multimedia CD-ROM of its encyclopedia, then called Compton's MultiMedia Encyclopedia .

Encyclopedia Britannica Nowadays

Today as in the past, the Encyclopedia Britannica is a household name in quality and informational reference. It is used by millions of people from the most diverse cultures in all continents of the Globe. It is the most authoritative and traditional reference work in the English language.

Their today's vast line of products - including the 36 print volumes, CD-ROMs and the Online Encyclopedia Britannica - continues to shed light on the most varied of topics and be a bedrock of Education and learning for millions of people throughout the world.

Britannica Toolbox

Free tools offered by Britannica! Choose from a rich set of tool to explore key people, places and topics quickly and easily: Newsletter, RSS feeds, Britannica on Google, and widgets.


The features of Britannica Toolbox will broaden the scope of your learning experience with its variety of daily pearls of knowledge. Read more...