Sunday, March 10, 2013
Encyclopedia and Dictionary
I grew up in a house with a big dictionary on a stand and a complete set of the 1962 World Book Encyclopedia. The actual dictionary and stand are pictured below (that's not actually me or my old house, it's my nephew at my Mom's new condo). I recently acquired a complete World Book Encyclopedia set identical to the one that I grew up with.
When I was in school, one of the key ingredients of every classroom was a dictionary and every school library was built around its encyclopedia, atlas, and other reference works. To this day, the accrediting institutions still list the library with its book collection and reference materials as a key issue.
With a sweet sense of irony, I just looked up "encyclopedia" on Wikipedia and found:
...The beginnings of the modern idea of the general-purpose, widely distributed printed encyclopedia precede the 18th century encyclopedists. However, Chambers' Cyclopaedia, or Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (1728), and the Encyclopédie of Diderot and D'Alembert (1751 onwards), as well as Encyclopædia Britannica and the Conversations-Lexikon, were the first to realize the form we would recognize today, with a comprehensive scope of topics, discussed in depth and organized in an accessible, systematic method...
In the United States, the 1950s and 1960s saw the introduction of several large popular encyclopedias, often sold on installment plans. The best known of these were World Book and Funk and Wagnalls... By the late 20th century, encyclopedias were being published on CD-ROMs for use with personal computers. Microsoft's Encarta, launched in 1993...The 21st century has seen the dominance of wikis as popular encyclopedias, including Wikipedia among many others.
Another memorable aspect of the encyclopedia era was the door-to-door salesman who sold them. A suprising number of people of my generation spent some time selling them. Encyclopedia Britannica -- at its peak, had around 2,300 in the sales force....A year ago this week, the last salesman for Britannica, Myron Taxman, retired. He was 66. He began selling the encyclopedia at the age of 22, when he was still in college in Chicago. He sold the volumes for 28 years: to farmers and to new parents without much money, to a Bears quarterback and to film director John Hughes. (Encyclopedia Britannica Salesman Mourns End Of Print Edition)
Posted by BBat50 at 4:10 PM