rudy_wayne writes "The end of Encyclopedia Britannica has been widely reported and its demise has been blamed on Wikipedia. However, this article at Wired points out that the real reason is something entirely different. 'In 1990 Britannica had $650 million in revenue. In 1996, long before Wikipedia existed, it was bankrupt and the entire company was sold for $135 million. What happened in between was Encarta. Even though Encarta didn't make money for Microsoft and Britannica produced its own encyclopedia CDs, Encarta was an inexpensive, multimedia encyclopedia that helped Microsoft sell Windows PCs to families. And once you had a PC in the living room or den where the encyclopedia used to be, it was all over for Mighty Britannica. It's not that Encarta made knowledge cheaper, it's that technology supplanted its role as a purchasable 'edge' for over-anxious parents. They bought junior a new PC instead of a Britannica. When Wikipedia emerged five years later, Britannica was already a weakened giant. It wasn't a free and open encyclopedia that defeated its print edition. It was the personal computer itself.'"
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