|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|Nonfiction topics||Science and Medicine|
Pergamon Press was an Oxford-based publishing house, founded by Paul Rosbaud and Robert Maxwell, that published scientific and medical books and journals. Originally called Butterworth-Springer, it is now an imprint of Elsevier.
The core company, Butterworth-Springer, started in 1948 to bring the "Springer know-how and techniques of aggressive publishing in science"to Britain. Paul Rosbaud was the man with the knowledge. When Maxwell acquired the company in 1951, Rosbaud held a one-quarter share. They changed the house name to Pergamon Press, using a logo that was a reproduction of a Greek coin from Pergamon. Maxwell and Rosbaud worked together growing the company until May 1956, when, according to Joe Haines, Rosbaud was sacked.
When Pergamon Press started it had only six serials and two books. Initially the company headquarters was in Fitzroy Square in West End of London. In 1959 the company moved into Headington Hill Hall, a country home rented from the city of Oxford.
In 1960 Brian Cox joined Pergamon Press as subscription manager. After the founders' deaths, Cox has become the primary witness to the phenomenal rise of Pergamon Press in the Science, Technology, and Medicine (STM) sector of publishing. The 59 Pergamon academic journals in 1960 became 418 journals in 1992. Cox recalls that in the process some 700 were launched, many transmogrifying rather than ceasing. Cox says "The secret of Pergamon's success was to publish a large number of journals, so that the established titles could support the new ones during their formative years".
In 1962 Pergamon Press started the series called The Commonwealth and International Library of Sciences, Technology, Engineering, and Liberal Studies. By 1970 this series had 1000 titles. Brian Cox says that in all, Pergamon published 7,000 monographs for various authors.
In 1964 Pergamon Press became a public company. With its growth and export performance, the company was a recipient of one of the Queen's Awards for Enterprise in 1966. That year saw construction of a new office block and warehouse at Headington Hill. Pergamon ventured to produce an Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Physics, in nine volumes and four supplements in the decade from 1961.
In 1969, Maxwell lost control of Pergamon and was ejected from the board.An inquiry by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) under the Takeover Code of the time reported in mid-1971: "We regret having to conclude that, notwithstanding Mr Maxwell's acknowledged abilities and energy, he is not in our opinion a person who can be relied on to exercise proper stewardship of a publicly quoted company." It was found that Maxwell had contrived to maximise Pergamon's share price through transactions between his private family companies. Maxwell reacquired Pergamon in 1974 after borrowing funds.
Pergamon continued with International Encyclopedias in biotechnology, chemistry, education, engineering, entomology, linguistics, materials science, and pharmacology and toxicology. The education volume won the Dartmouth Medal from the American Library Association in 1986 as the best reference work of the year.
Pergamon also has offices in Elmsford, New York, in the United States.
Maxwell sold Pergamon Press to academic publishing giant Elsevier in March 1991 for £440 million; the funds were used to repay the large borrowings taken on by Maxwell in taking control of New York Daily News.
Maxwell retained Pergamon's US books (which became part of sister company Macmillan Inc.), Chess and Bridge, and some smaller properties.The imprint "Pergamon Press" continues to be used to identify journals now published by Elsevier.
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Paul Rosbaud, was a metallurgist and scientific adviser for Springer Verlag in Germany before and during World War II. He continued in science publishing after the war with Pergamon Press in Oxford, England. In 1986 Arnold Kramish revealed the undercover work of Rosbaud for England during the war in the book The Griffin. It was Rosbaud who dispelled anxiety over a "German atom bomb".
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Principles of Optics, colloquially known as Born and Wolf, is an optics textbook written by Max Born and Emil Wolf that was initially published in 1959 by Pergamon Press. After going through six editions with Pergamon Press, the book was transferred to Cambridge University Press who issued an expanded seventh edition in 1999. A 60th anniversary edition was published in 2019 with a foreword by Sir Peter Knight. It is considered a classic science book and one of the most influential optics books of the twentieth century.