Guinness World Records, known until 2000 as The Guinness Book of Records (and
in previous U.S. editions The Guinness Book of World Records), is a reference
book published annually, containing an internationally recognised collection of
world records, both human achievements and the extreme of the natural world. The
book itself holds a world record, as the best-selling copyrighted series.
Guinness World Records 2007 edition.
Fountain of Wealth largest fountain in the world in Singapore.
Some world record attempts are more unusual than others. Suresh Joachim, minutes
away from breaking the ironing world record at 55 hours and 5 minutes, at
Shoppers World, Brampton.
The CN Tower has been the world's tallest freestanding structure on land since
its opening in 1976.
Madonna is the highest earning female singer of all time, according to the 2007
Guinness Book of Records.
On 10 November 1951, Sir Hugh Beaver, then the managing director of the Guinness
Brewery, went on a shooting party in North Slob, by the River Slaney in County
Wexford, Ireland. He became involved in an argument: which was the fastest game
bird in Europe, the golden plover or the grouse? That evening at Castlebridge
House, he realized that it was impossible to confirm in reference books whether
or not the golden plover was Europe's fastest game bird.
Beaver thought that there must be numerous other questions debated nightly in
the 81,400 pubs in Britain and in Ireland, but there was no book with which to
settle arguments about records. He realised then that a book supplying the
answers to this sort of question might prove popular.
Beaver’s idea became reality when Guinness employee Christopher Chataway
recommended University friends Norris and Ross McWhirter, who had been running a
fact-finding agency in London. The brothers were commissioned to compile what
became The Guinness Book of Records in August 1954. One thousand copies were
printed and given away.
After founding the Guinness Book of Records at 107 Fleet Street, the first 198
page edition was bound on 27 August 1955 and went to the top of the British best
seller lists by Christmas. "It was a marketing give away—it wasn't supposed to
be a money maker," said Beaver. The following year it launched in the U.S., and
it sold 70,000 copies.
After the book became a surprise hit, many further editions were printed,
eventually settling into a pattern of one revision a year, published in October
to coincide with Christmas sales. The McWhirters continued to publish it and
related books for many years. Ross was assassinated by the Provisional Irish
Republican Army in 1975. Both brothers had an encyclopedic memory — on the TV
series Record Breakers, based upon the book, they would take questions posed by
children in the audience on various world records, and would usually be able to
give the correct answer. Following McWhirter's assassination, the feature was
called "Norris on the Spot".
Recent editions have focused on record feats by human competitors. Competitions
range from obvious ones such as weightlifting to the more entertaining such as
longest egg-throwing distance or the number of hot dogs that can be consumed in
ten minutes - although eating contest and beer and alcohol consumption entries
are no longer accepted, possibly for fear of litigation. Besides records about
competitions, it contains such facts as the height of the tallest person (Robert
Pershing Wadlow), the heaviest tumor, the most poisonous plant, the shortest
river (Roe River), the longest-running drama (Guiding Light), the longest
serving members of a drama series (William Roache for Coronation Street in the
UK, Kate Ritchie and Ray Meagher for Home and Away in Australia), the world's
most successful salesman (Joe Girard) and the only brother and sister to have
solo number one singles in UK chart history (Daniel and Natasha Bedingfield).
Each edition contains a selection of the large set of records in the Guinness
database, and the criteria for that choice have changed over the years.
The ousting of Norris McWhirter from his consulting role in 1995 and the
subsequent decision by Diageo plc to sell the Guinness World Records brand have
shifted it from a text-heavy reference book to a highly-illustrated, colourful
These changes have done no harm to its commercial success: the Guinness Book of
Records is the world's most sold copyrighted book, thus earning it an entry
within its own pages. A number of spin-off books and television series have also
been produced. Again the emphasis in these shows has been on spectacular,
entertaining stunts, rather than any aspiration to inform or educate. The
Guinness World Record brand is now owned by HIT Entertainment.
Guinness World Records do not monitor the category of 'Person with the most
records' as this changes too frequently, and records that once existed may now
have been 'rested' and therefore this would not be a fair category.
In 2005, Guinness designated 9 November as International Guinness World Records
Day to encourage breaking of world records; it was described as "phenomenally
successful". The 2006 version was dubbed as, "the world’s biggest international
event" with an estimated 100,000 people participating in over 10 countries. The
promotion has earned Guinness a whopping 2,244 all-new valid records in 12
months, which is a 173% increase over the previous year.
In 2006, Michael Jackson visited the Guinness World Records office in London to
collect 7 Official Records Certificates related to his successful career as a
vocalist and song writer.
On 9 January 2007 Guinness announced it was working with AskMeNow to offer
mobile access to the Guinness World Records databases. Users can use SMS text
messages to ask questions and the answers are sent back.
Steven Petrosino, drinking 500 ml beer in 0.4 seconds in June 1977.
Guinness accepted only the record for one litre, but later dropped all beer and
alcohol records from their compendium in 1991.
Several world records that were once included in the book have been removed for
ethical reasons. By publishing world records in a category, the book may
encourage others to try to beat that record, even at the expense of their own
health and safety. For example, following publication of a "heaviest cat"
record, many cat owners overfed their pets beyond the bounds of what was
healthy, so entries such as these were removed. Likewise,
records related to dangerous stunts are often not published, for example those
closely related to freediving. The Guinness Book also dropped records within
their "eating and drinking records" section of Human Achievements in 1991 due to
concerns that potential competitors could do harm to themselves and expose the
publisher to potential litigation. These changes included the removal of all
liquor, wine and beer drinking records, along with other unusual records for
consuming such unlikely things as bicycles and trees.
Other records, such as sword swallowing, were closed to further entry as the
current holders had performed beyond what are considered safe human tolerance
levels. There have been cases where closed records have been reopened. For
example, the sword swallowing record was listed as closed in 1990 Guinness Book
of World Records, but the Guinness World Records Primetime TV show, which
started in 1998, accepted three sword swallowing challenges.
Chain letters are also not allowed. "Guinness World Records does not accept any
records relating to chain letters, sent by post or e-mail. If you receive a
letter or an e-mail, which may promise to publish the names of all those who
send it on, please destroy it, it is a hoax. No matter if it says that Guinness
World Records and the postal service are involved, they are not."
Guinness Museum in Hollywood.
In recent years the Guinness company has permitted the franchising of small
museums with displays based on the book, all currently (as of 2005) located in
towns popular with tourists: Tokyo, Surfers Paradise, Copenhagen, San Francisco,
San Antonio, Niagara Falls, Hollywood, Atlantic City, Myrtle Beach, South
Carolina and Gatlinburg, Tennessee. While some displays are dramatic, like the
statues of the world's tallest and shortest people, or videos of records being
broken, much of the information is presented simply with text and photos.