January 15th 2001: Wikipedia launched
On this day in 2001, Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, was launched by American entrepreneurs Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger. The new website developed from an existing project, called Nupedia, which featured expertly-written and formally-reviewed articles. Wales and Sanger, however, decided to launch a new online encyclopedia which could be edited by the public, while striving for neutrality in its articles. Initially only available in the English language, Wikipedia had the modest goal of reaching 100,000 articles. By 2004, there were 161 language editions of Wikipedia, and it quickly surpassed the 100,000 article goal. Now, there are 291 language versions of Wikipedia, and over five million articles. Wikipedia is the largest encyclopedia in history, breaking the record set by the Chinese Yongle Encyclopedia of 1408. While Wikipedia is one of the ten most-visited websites in the world, it has been suggested that the site is in decline, with commentators pointing to falling numbers of contributors and a slowing article production rate. Plus, as a free service, Wikipedia relies on donations from readers, securing $75.5 million in 2014 alone. It remains an immensely popular and invaluable source of knowledge, though its openness, and examples of vandalism, lead some to question its accuracy.
15 years ago today