I have written often about Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia. While not perfect, Wikipedia is becoming the dominant encyclopedia of today.
While "free" is a good thing, the requirement for an Internet connection may be a bit of a problem. What do you do when you are in a college class without wireless network access? How do you access Wikipedia while soaring 38,000 feet above the earth in some airliner? Now the (also free) Wikipedia CD-ROM comes to your rescue.
The Wikimedia Foundation and Linterweb have released Wikipedia Version 0.5, a compact disc collection of 1,964 articles from the English Wikipedia. The project paves the way for many such collections, with larger releases planned in a variety of languages. The selection of articles on the CD was based on criteria for quality and importance set by the Wikipedia community. Topics covered include, among others, geography, arts, literature, science, history, and natural sciences. Users can browse articles using a built-in search engine or by surfing navigational pages.
You can download a CD-ROM image yourself and burn it to a CD-ROM disk. However, I think you will want a broadband connection to download an entire CD-ROM disk of material. If you prefer, you may purchase a disk and have it shipped to you for $15.44 U.S. While the data is free, a physical disk costs money to pay for duplication, packaging, shipping and labor. I suspect that most people will download the free version.
You can find more information about Wikipedia on CD-ROM at http://www.wikipediaondvd.com/site.php.
Look closely at the URL. You will see the word "DVD" in it. Apparently, the group has plans to offer a DVD version in the future.