Did you know that 2034 patent applications were submitted by Austrians in the year 1993 alone?
The very first encyclopaedias date back to the Age of Enlightenment at the end of the 18th century. They were reference works aiming to organise knowledge in cohesive and concise systems. The alphabetical arrangement of keywords proved to be one of the most effective ways of systematising information, making encyclopaedias an integral part of education and research work.
The beginning of the 19th century saw the development of the first national encyclopaedias featuring culture-specific information. The most famous encyclopaedia focusing on Austriaca dating back to this period is the "Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Österreich, enthaltend die Lebensskizzen der denkwürdigen Personen, welche 1750 bis 1850 im Kaiserstaate und in seinen Kronländern gelebt haben" (roughly equivalent to "Biographical encyclopaedia of the Austrian empire containing the biographies of memorable persons who lived in the empire and its crownlands between 1750 and 1850"). This work, assembled by Constant von Wurzbach, still serves as the main reference work for researching biographies of famous Austrians.
It wasn't until 1966, however, that the creation of an Austria-specific encyclopaedia was undertaken by Richard and Maria Bamberger and Franz Maier-Bruck. The work's main aims were to take into special consideration the Austrian national character and the problems post-war Austria was facing during the era of reconstruction after World War II. The expansion and revision of this encyclopaedia not only provides a more comprehensive and modern reference work, it also attempts to delve further into the Austrian past and to shed light on problematic national issues which are still relevant to the social and cultural identity of today's Austria. Since 1945 Austria has developed into a modern nation in the framework of a free and democratic social order and has become part of the European Community. The internal structure of the country has also undergone significant changes.
One of the main tasks of this encyclopaedia is to present the positive as well as the negative aspects of 20th century Austria, and to give credit to Austrians who brought about political, cultural, social and economic progress. It is equally important, however, to maintain the discourse about past and present ills of Austrian society and other critical developments.
This encyclopaedia is a description of Austria, of Austrian history, the progress the nation has made and the challenges it faces at the end of the 20th century, adapted to the needs of the international user. It features more than 13,000 articles on Austrian economic development, and on the making and present-day progress of large Austrian companies and their product innovations. The publishers have attempted to include a wide variety of biographical entries, to focus equally on all nine Austrian provinces and to pay attention to women's issues. For in-depth reference only the latest works have been cited.
The arrangement of this unique reference work would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of our small team. We would like to thank the publishing group for entrusting us with the creation of a product according to their needs and specifications. Further thanks go to Dr. Richard and Maria Bamberger and Univ.-Prof. Dr. Ernst Bruckmüller and all the editors, especially Mag. Johann Lehner, Dr. Herbert Schillinger, Irmtraud Weishaupt and all other assistants. We thank Brigitte Werner for co-ordinating the entire project, Dr. Katja Erlach and Helmut Maurer for the arrangement of illustrations, pictures and photographic material, the owners and staff of Druckhaus Grasl printers and numerous others who cannot be named individually for lack of space. We especially acknowledge the assistance of Austrian federal, provincial and local offices and departments, of the staff of archives, libraries, museums and university departments and of numerous private persons, who supplied picture material and without whom this project would not have been possible. Last but not least many thanks go to Hellmut Riedling for reading the entire German-language work from the viewpoint of the user. We hope you enjoy browsing through the ÖSTERREICH LEXIKON encyclopaedia.
Univ.-Prof. Hofrat Karl Gutkas (Vienna, June 1995)