Wikipedia: The World's Largest Encyclopedia
Programmer Ben Kovitz had worked with WikiWikiWeb, and on January 2, 2001, introduced it to Larry Sanger. At the time, Sanger was a software developer for a company called Bomis and was working on an online encyclopedia dubbed Nupedia. The Nupedia project didn't get off the ground, but Sanger saw that the wiki concept could be used to create an even more inclusive Web encyclopedia. Sanger suggested to Jimmy Wales, Bomis' owner, that they use a version of the UseModWiki engine that drove WikiWikiWeb to create their own wiki encyclopedia, which they eventually dubbed Wikipedia.
Wikipedia was formally launched on January 15, 2001. Initial articles came from previous Nupedia contributors, postings on the Slashdot technology news website, and sites found on major search engines. By the end of 2001, there were 20,000 articles in the Wikipedia database.
The site continued to grow in terms of readers, contributors, and number of articles. Wikipedia reached the 2 million article mark on September 9, 2007, which made it the largest encyclopedia ever assembled.
At present, Wikipedia hosts more than 2.9 million English-language articles, with a total of 13 million articles available in more than 250 different languages. The articles are written and revised by hundreds of thousands of individual contributors who volunteer their time and knowledge at no charge, for the good of the Wikipedia project.
The resulting knowledgebase is not only huge but also hugely popular. Wikipedia is the second-most searched site on the Internet, behind only Google. The site sees more than 10 million visitors each month, placing it among the top ten English-language sites on the Web.