The history of ISO

Whilst we’ve all heard of ISO and many businesses looking to streamline their systems and processes, improve their business agility and essentially do business better, we all take those three letters – I, S and O for granted, never really understanding how and why ISO was formed and how ISO is now one of the world’s most globally recognised standards. Here, we offer you a brief history of ISO, showing the work that goes on to help businesses work better.


Formation – 1946/7

ISO came into existence in 1947, a year after delegates from 25 different countries met in London to discuss standardisation across the globe. Initially 67 separate technical groups of experts were formed, each focussing on one particular subject.


1951 -ISO/R 1:1951

Whilst many people believe ISO 9001 was the first standard, this isn’t the case. Originally termed “recommendations” rather than standards, ISO/R 1:1951 (Now ISO1: 2002 Geometrical Product Specifications) covered reference temperatures for industrial length measurements.


1960s – ISO and Devco

In the 1960’s ISO development led to the establishment of Devco, a committee that dealt with developing countries, helping to keep them informed about the international standards.


1970s – ISO goes Global

As far as development of standards went, few countries were involved, but the appointment of General Olle Sturen changed all this. Sturen’s visits to a variety of member countries fostered the involvement in creation of standards in countries such as China, Japan and Australia and this was reflected in the Central Secretariat – on average, 25 different countries were represented.


1987 – ISO 9000

It wasn’t until 1987 that ISO published a standard relating to quality. However, the ISO 9000 family’s impact has been global, making the 9000’s some of the most popular standards worldwide.


1996 – ISO 14001

In order to assist businesses with fulfilling their environmental goals, in terms of identification of their impact on the environment and commitment to controlling it, ISO 14001 was developed in 1996. As more and more businesses focus on doing business in an environmentally conscious way, this standard has become more and more popular over the years.


2005 – ISO 27001

As information technology becomes more and more essential to businesses in many industries, ISO creates a standard relating to information security. The original standard, created in 2005 was originally formed jointly by ISO and IEC, and is now one of the world’s most popular standards as businesses seek to minimise risks and control information.


ISO today

It’s pretty clear to see that ISO has evolved significantly since its inception. Moving along with new technologies and different ways of doing business, there have been many standards developed, one of the most notable being ISO 26000 – which covers guidelines for social responsibility. In addition, changes have been made to the older standards to reflect the changing face of doing business, for example – changes to ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 have just been announced, taking into account the management of risks and the organisation’s interested parties. These are just some of the reasons that ISO accreditation means a great deal to businesses, their customers and in fact, their bottom line.


If you’re interested in learning how ISO accreditation could improve the way you do business, why not give Synergos a call on 01484 817 444 or email



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