[Foundation-l] Encarta is dead

Austin Hair adhair at gmail.com
Wed Apr 1 02:57:44 UTC 2009

On Tue, Mar 31, 2009 at 1:48 AM, Maria Fanucchi <marialadouce at gmail.com> wrote:
> RIP Encarta.
> For better or for worse, it was for many people, especially children, the
> first encyclopedia they ever encountered. It may eventually have sparked the
> interest of, and inspired, more than a few Wikipedians.

The first encyclopedia I encountered was a supermarket set, published
by Grolier I think, made available one volume per week in 1991.  Every
grocery trip, my mother would buy me the next volume, and in a box
somewhere I still have the complete set—in fact, I used them to
fact-check some of my earliest Wikipedia articles, back when we were
still creating pages about the commonest of things, any new content
was a positive contribution, and we weren't quite so strict about
citing sources.

A few years later, my parents bought a copy of one of the first
editions of Encarta, distributed on a single CD-ROM.  "Multimedia" was
still a buzzword, and having audio sprinkled throughout—even video,
for select topics—was an amazing thing.  I grew up in an
anti-Microsoft household, and we ran Encarta under IBM OS/2, but
despite my prejudice, I couldn't help but find Encarta the greatest
thing ever.  I was disappointed when I had read every article in less
than a week, but the proof of concept was there.  (I don't think I
need to wax nostalgic any further; obviously, long story short, I got

So, yes, I do have some nostalgia for Encarta.  Its day is long gone,
and this is certainly overdue, but I've never really harbored any ill
will toward it.

> Let's hope some of their material can be released (I'm hoping specifically
> for some of the multimedia, such as snippets of music made with rare
> instruments, and the sound files of letters, numbers and various phrases
> said in many languages, by native speakers).

I second that.  Even now, when I think about Encarta, the first thing
that comes to mind is a recording they had of a Baroque piece played
on the harpsichord.  (Not that that's rare, but they did do a great
job deciding what pieces warranted multimedia presentation, and they
had some good ones.)


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