History of ISO

The ISO story*
ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is the world’s largest developer of voluntary International Standards and has published more than 19,000 International Standards covering almost all aspects of technology and business.

The story begins…
In London, in 1946, 65 delegates from 25 countries meet to discuss the future of International Standardization. In 1947, ISO officially comes into existence with 67 technical committees (groups of experts focusing on a specific subject).

ISO’s first standard
In 1951, the first ISO standard (called Recommendations at this time), ISO/R 1:1951Standard reference temperature for industrial length measurements, is published. Since then, the standard has been updated numerous times and is now ISO 1:2002 Geometrical Product Specifications (GPS) – Standard reference temperature for geometrical product specification.

May 1952
The ISO Journal
Since its creation ISO has published monthly information about its technical committees, the standards published and administrative changes to the organization and its members.

SI – International System of Units
In 1960, ISO publishes the standard ISO 31 on quantities and units (which has since been replaced by ISO 80 000). ISO 31 is based on SI (Système international d’unités). The SI sets out one unit for each quantity, for example, the meter for distance and the second for time. The objective of the SI system is to reach world-wide uniformity in units of measurement. ISO 80 000 sets out these units and how to use them.

1960’s – ISO and developing countries
During the 1960’s ISO works to include more developing countries in its International Standardization work. In 1961 it establishes DEVCO, a committee for developing country matters, and in 1968 introduces Correspondent membership. This allows developing countries to be informed of International Standardization work without the full costs of ISO membership. Correspondent membership continues to be a popular option for many countries today. At the start of 2012, ISO had 49 correspondent members.

Freight containers
In 1968, ISO publishes its first standard on freight containers. Freight and packaging is one of the areas where ISO has been particularly active, changing the way goods travel across the world.

Environment on the agenda
In 1971, ISO creates its first two technical committees in the environmental field: Air quality and Water quality . Today, these committees have been joined by other groups of environmental experts focusing on many subjects including soil quality, environmental management and renewable energy.

ISO 9000 family
In 1987, ISO publishes its first quality management standard. Standards in the ISO 9000 family have gone on to become some of the most well known and best selling standards.

ISO goes digital
In 1995, ISO launches its first website. Five years later, in 2000, ISO starts selling its standards online.

ISO 14001
In 1996, ISO launches its environmental management system standard, ISO 14001. The standard provide stools for companies and organizations to help them identify and control their environmental impact.

New leadership – New technologies
In 2003, Alan Bryden is appointed Secretary General. Under his 5 year term, ISO expands its work to cover new technologies such as nanotechnology and biofuels.

Information security
In 2005, ISO and IEC’s joint technical committee JTC1 launches ISO/IEC 27001, a management system standard on information security. As businesses become increasingly reliant on information technology, securing the system and minimizing risks is ever more important. ISO 27001:2005 has become one of ISO’s most popular standards.

ISO’s new offices
In 2007, ISO moves to its current offices in La Voie Creuse, Geneva. Today the Central Secretariat employs almost 150 people, a significant increase from the staff of 5 in the early 1950’s.

August 25, 2008
ISO goes to Hollywood
In 2008, ISO, ITU and IEC are congratulated with an Emmy Award for their work in producing an advanced video coding standard.

Simpler, faster, better
In 2009, ISO’s current Secretary General Rob Steele is appointed. ISO takes on a new mission to be simpler, faster, better – to cut down standards development time and to better serve the needs of today’s society.

November 2010
ISO 26000
In 2010, ISO 26000, the International Standard providing guidelines for social responsibility, is launched. The working group that developed ISO 26000 is one of the largest and most diverse groups to develop an ISO standard. The resulting document is truly multi-stakeholder.

ISO Today
At the start of 2012, ISO has 163 members and has a total of over 19,000 standards. Today they have members from 161 countries and about 150 people work full time for our Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland.

ISO in 2020
The Strategic Plan for 2016-2020 has recently been finalized. The ISO Strategy outlines our priorities for the next five years. It provides guidance and strategic direction, helping us to respond to a future where constant change will require us to continually improve the ISO system. It is a living document, and strategic directions are adjusted as required.

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*Excerpt Courtesy of the International Organization for Standardization