Compton's 1999
Encyclopedia Deluxe

Price: $39.00

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Type of Product    
When is an encyclopedia not an encyclopedia? The latest edition of Compton's Encyclopedia has become more than just an encyclopedia--it's a complete and personalized information resource. The interactive Compton's Encyclopedia 1999 Deluxe is a comprehensive reference tool that combines thorough, up-to-date content with advanced multimedia, Internet, and student features.
User Level
This program would be appropriate for beginning PC users as the interface is user friendly. The program is suitable for an older child, age 10 and up, and adults; and it is a valuable resource for serious research or casual exploration.The student tools would be helpful to school age children. Because of its numerous features, though, intermediate and advanced users (college students) would also find it beneficial. It has a wealth of information that would be useful to users who desire in-depth material on specific topics. The Internet features would be especially helpful in serious research.
  • More than 40,000 articles; 16,000 images; 150 videos, animations, slide shows, and panoramic views; and 450 detailed maps of the U.S. and the world;
  • An interactive atlas and cross-referenced timeline;
  • A complete collegiate dictionary and companion thesaurus;
  • A year of free monthly updates;
  • Ask the Librarian provides personalized research help via e-mail;
  • Neighborhood Resources that finds museums, schools, libraries close to your home;
  • Student tools such as a "Topic Chooser," a "Report Starter," and a "Presentation Maker;"
  • Researched Web links with descriptions and appropriate age ranges;
  • Cyber Patrol, an Internet filtering software to guide and protect students online.

The two CD program is easy to install, with the option of a typical or full install. I used the full install. The User's Guide of 64 pages is helpful and fairly complete. There is a Guided Tour under the Help menu that provides you with a good overview of the program. It discusses: general features, find, atlas, timeline, research tools, online, special, and help. Below is a general review of some of the important features of the encyclopedia:

Main Screen--TheMain Screen main screen contains four main components: the Article Viewer on the right, the Article Outline and Related Items on the far left, and the Control Bar that runs across the top of the screen. For instance, you can click on a picture in the Article Viewer to see a close-up or to copy and print the image. You can click on a topic in the Article Outline to automatically scroll to that section of the article. You can also use Related Items to link to articles, tables, pictures, Atlas maps, movies, Timeline events, Web sites, updates, and Planetarium links. The Control Bar gives you access to every feature in the program.

Floating Pop-up Viewers & Icons--Floating pop-up viewers can be opened on top of the main screen, giving you access to different Find Pop-upkinds of information. Such features as the Dictionary/Thesaurus, the Notebook, and On This Date are displayed in these pop-up viewers. The pop-up viewers you'll use most frequently are the Find View, the Picture Viewer, the Movie Viewer, and the Text Viewer. You'll encounter many kinds of data in the encyclopedia: articles, tables, pictures, Atlas maps, Timeline items, movies, sounds, and more, and each piece of information is identified by its own icon which appears beside its title in the lists or within articles. Everything is well-organized and easy to find.

Article Style--The articles are designed to spark the interest of readers. Compton's have tried to have opening paragraphs that grab the readers' attention. The technical and science articles are written in what is called a pyramid style. With this style, the easiest and most accessible material appears at the beginning of the article and the texts gets more difficult and complex as the article progesses. This is helpful for users of different ages, with young users learning the basics in just the beginning paragraphs and the more advanced users learning more as they read. There are many cross references, bibliographies, and fact boxes and summaries.

TimelineTimeline--This feature allows you to explore information about events, people, and eras throughout world history, from 10,000 B.C. to the present. You can discover when a particular event occurred, the order in which a series of events happened, and which events were happening at the same time. You can click on a timeline element to link directly to related information. Clicking on different elements will present music or sound, movies, tables, maps, or articles.Planetarium

Planetarium--Choose this feature if you want to see a view of the night sky in your area or any area in the world. You can identify constellations, planets, stars, star clusters, etc. To learn more about a constellation, you can click on its name to view an article.

Student Tools--There are many features that make research and report writing easy and productive with this program:Report Starter

  1. Report Starter includes notecards, bibliography tools, an outline generator, and the ability to export the notecards into a text file or print them out. An extensive help file is included to assist students in conducting research.
  2. PresentPresentation Makeration Maker is a media show creator with full tutorial and example presentations. To create presentations, students can bookmark images, articles, sounds, and movies from the encyclopedia and put them into a presentation. They can also input their own material, sounds, and photos.
  3. Multimedia Explorations are visual, curriculum-based environments that include movies, timeline capsules, maps, pictures, and 360-degree views. Each exploration focuses on a common curriculum topic: Ancient Civilizations, Biomes of the World, Cultures of the World, U.S. History, or Space Exploration.
  4. Notebook is a study tool designed to help students take notes and stay focused on their research.
  5. Highlighter allows students to color words, phrases, or paragraphs to make their studying easier. Students can choose from a variety of colors and search for these highlights within a long article. They are easy to remove when they are no longer needed.

Internet Features--Connecting from Compton's to the Web was very easy. I really liked the Internet features, and they are listed below:

  1. Ask the Librarian is a free online service included in the encyclopedia that helps guide students to appropriate research sources for almost any question. Students can e-mail research requests to online librarians, who will respond within two business days with a personalized, age-appropriate list of resources related to their topic.
  2. Monthly Updater provides monthly updates on world changes, politics, science, culture, and entertainment. These updates are downloaded and merged with the click of a mouse. You just sign on to the Internet, and Compton's automatically initiates the updates.
  3. Find Neighborhood Resources, with Zip 2, allows you to select subjects from a list of resources, from Libraries to Aquariums to Zoos. Enter a zip code and Zip 2 identifies relevant listings and links to relevant Web sites. You are also provided with directions to area locations from almost any address. This is a great feature for someone who is new to an area and is not familiar with an area.
  4. Web Link Directory features more than 4,000 up-to-date Web links. Each link has a short description of the site and age-appropriate guidelines to help you evaluate the potential usefulness of the content before going online. Web links are also featured in relevant articles within the CD-ROM text.
Personal Comments    
This is a valuable software package. It has many tools for users of all ages. The student tools are excellent and easy to use. The planetarium section grabbed my interest. And the Internet features were helpful. Looking for a topic on the Web can be time-consuming. With Compton's Encyclopedia, you just look up the subject and click on the linked Web site.

I recently took a trip to Chiapas and Mexico City and had done extensive reading on the areas. To test the thoroughness of Compton's, I searched for material on the subject. It was more up-to-date than I had expected. I started with current events, then went to history, culture, authors, museums and other places of interest, and I also looked at maps. There was more than enough material. Nice package at a very good price.

After using it for a while, I mentioned it to a friend who replied, "Well, I already have an encyclopedia for my children." And I replied back, "I was not talking about the product for the children, I was thinking about you." Many individuals are not familiar with encyclopedia software and have no idea of how far it has come. I would recommend this package to students and adults. It would make a very good Christmas stocking stuffer.
Other Goodies    
With this software package you get a trial subscription to the Electric Library; a one-year subscription to Compton's Monthly Updater which is an online monthly updater; and a one-year subscription to Cyber Patrol's weekly CyberYES and CyberNOT Web-filtering updates. There is also a CD with one full year of National Geographic Magazine.
System Requirements    
Operating System: Windows 95 or 98
Processor: 486DX2/66 MHz or better
Memory: 16MB RAM
Hard Disk Space: 15MB
256-color VGA
2x CD-ROM drive
Optional: Modem and Internet access; sound card and speakers or headphones; and Windows-compatible printer
Technical Support    
Mindscape is a division of The Learning Company, Inc. Their Web site has a variety of features, including an online encyclopedia. Their support URL is:

Graphics: DeMorgan WebSpice 1,000,000 Page Design Edition
Web Page Editor: Symantec Visual Page