In 1881 Friedrich Konrad Beilstein's issued the first edition of his Handbuch der organischen Chemie from Hamburg, Germany, in 1881. The 2-volume work covered 1,500 compounds in 2,200 pages. By 1998, the last year a printed edition was issued, the research, incorporating information from 1771, grew to more than 7,000,000 compounds, and the annual subscription price to the printed edition reached about $40,000 per year. By that time the data filled 503 volumes with 440,814 pages.
Obviously, it became increasingly impractical to continue publication of such an enormous work in print. Conversion of the immense amount of data was completed in 1988, and online subscriptions were made available, with the full conversion to online only publication in 1999.
After termination of the printed edition, publication of Beilstein as a database continued online under a number of different names, including Crossfire Beilstein. Since 2009, the content has been maintained and distributed by Elsevier Information Systems in Frankfurt under the product name "Reaxys". The database contains information on millions of reactions, substances, structures and properties. Up to 350 fields containing chemical and physical data (such as melting point, refractive index etc.) are available for each substance. References to the literature in which the reaction or substance data appear are also given.
Norman, From Gutenberg to the Internet (2005) 11.