OED Goes Electronic

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

AS the ``oohs'' and ``ahs'' from reviewers of the new edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (along with groans, since the 20-volume, $2,500 set must be returned to the publisher) reverberate, one hopes the word anachronism was consulted. It just may be a ``descriptor'' for the next edition of the OED. The reason is simple - computerization. The OED now exists as an electronic data base, all 350 million characters of it. It is not hard to imagine horse-and-buggy status for the print version of the OED.

You can hold the entire OED on a tiny platter in the palm of your hand and pop it into a computer, rather than wrestle with the 138-pound set and the four feet of shelf space to house it.

Given some simple computer skills, a personal computer, and a CD-Rom drive ($600 to $1,000 depending on model), combined with one-to-three hours learning on a built-in tutorial that comes with the software, and the thought adventure of the OED beckons in ways undreamed of in print.

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