1771 - Encyclopaedia Britannica

First produced in Edinburgh in 1771, the Encyclopaedia Britannica offered the world a radically new kind of publication with subjects arranged in a single alphabetical sequence. It has remained the pre-eminent source of information on all subjects aimed at a universal audience, and is today produced in electronic form.

The Encyclopaedia Britannica was one of the great landmarks of 18th-century Edinburgh publishing. Born out of frustration at the failings of the encyclopaedias of Diderot and Chambers that preceded it, it was produced by a triumvirate consisting of engraver Andrew Bell (1726-1809), printer Colin Macfarquhar (c. 1745-1809), and editor William Smellie (1740-95). Despite a difficult gestation, it went on to have a success that spanned over two centuries, evolving into the purely electronic publication that it is today.

Encyclopaedia Britannica; or, a dictionary of arts and sciences, compiled upon a new plan . illustrated with one hundred and sixty copperplates. By a society of gentlemen in Scotland. 3 vols. Edinburgh, 1771. X.205.e

Encyclopaedia Britannica


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