The name Webster has become a virtual synonym for the word Dictionary.
Noah Webster led a very active life. He served in the Revolutionary War and attended Yale College (graduating in the class of 1778). Webster went on to teach school, do clerical work, study law, and in 1781, was admitted to the bar.
While teaching, Webster became dissatisfied with the texts for children that ignored American culture and began his life-long effort to promote a distinctively American education. One of his first efforts was The American Spelling Book (1783); the famed "Blue Backed Speller" which has never been out of print and has had a total sales volume estimated at 100,000,000 copies.
In 1806, Webster published his Compendious Dictionary of the English Language. Although it was no more than preparation for his later dictionary, it contained 5,000 more words than Samuel Johnson's 1755 dictionary and also a number of innovations including the first separation of i and j, and v and u, as alphabetical entities. In addition to the compiling of The Dictionary, Webster wrote on many subjects including politics, medicine, economics and science.
One hundred years after Webster published his American Dictionary of the English Language it was hailed as the most significant contribution to the growth of English lexicography a view that is still true today.
The American Dictionary of the English Language was first published in 1828 and set the standard for all succeeding works that were to follow.
Webster's Dictionary contained over 70,000 entries, with 35,000 to 40,000 of those definitions never having been in any earlier dictionary.
Webster's emphasis was on American pronunciation and usage as distinguished from British forms. His dictionary was also noted for its clear and complete definitions and the inclusion of non-literary words and technical terms from the arts and sciences.....Perhaps its strongest new feature.
Unfortunately, the American Dictionary was relatively unprofitable and the 1841 revision unsuccessful.
After Webster's death in 1843, the rights to the dictionary were purchased by George and Charles Merriam. The new company and its successors continued the work with many subsequent revisions.