The first volume was published by August Pauly in 1839. Pauly died in 1845, his work unfinished; Christian Waltz and Wilhelm Teuffel completed it in 1852. This first edition was six volumes. A second edition was worked on from 1861 and 1866, but never finished.
In 1890 Georg Wissowa started on a new and more ambitious edition. He expected to be done in 10 years, but the last of its 83 volumes did not appear until 1978, and the index volume came out in 1980.
Each article was written by a recognized specialist in the relevant field, but unsurprisingly for a work spanning three generations, the underlying assumptions vary radically with the age of the article. Many biographies were written by Friedrich Münzer.
The price and size of Pauly-Wissowa have always been daunting, and so between 1964 and 1975 the Verlag J.B. Metzler put out Der Kleine Pauly in five volumes.
An updated version called Der Neue Pauly, consisting of 18 volumes (although only 15 volumes were planned) and an index, appeared gradually from 1996 to 2003. Since 2004 supplement volumes also appear (7 are planned). An English edition, Brill’s New Pauly: Encyclopaedia of the Ancient World was published in 2006, with a chronological supplement in 2007.
The index to Pauly-Wissowa is available on CD-ROM.