I love encyclopedias. The whole idea of so much to know organized alphabetically is just really appealing to me. I really liked having Encyclopedia Britannica on Silvastone. The kid’s version was very useful for learning all kinds of stuff and having it explained clearly. Then if you got really specific you had to go to Mom and Dad’s encyclopedia which was always much harder to understand.
So I was sucker for Microsoft Encarta when it came out. I wound up with Encarta 96 when I got it on sale for $20. I got a deal on Britannica’s new CD version in 1997, but it was disappointing. They claimed to have all the text of the print version, but it never seemed to me the articles were very long. I bought Britannica again in 2000 and, while the articles seemed more complete (3 CD’s!), there was a clunky browser interface. Really it was just a big web site stored on CD. Sometimes you had to swap out disks. This was also the downfall of Encarta 98, though for Encarta 2000 (free with the computer I bought), they got it back down to one disk. Encarta was much snazzier than Britannica throughout all the different versions.
This month I got an offer for Britannica 2006 on DVD-ROM. A special offer let me get it for $19.95 plus $3.95 shipping, so I went ahead and bought it. (You can too by going to here picking out the 2006 Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite for $27.95 and applying the discount code “STOREHOL” at checkout; or you can buy the print version for $995 and the teen version for another $499). I haven’t gotten it in the mail but I hope that by having it on DVD with 5 times the information of a single CD, that it will be simpler to use and more complete. And hopefully they have worked out some bugs of past editions. I’ll let you know once I have a chance to try it out.