IEEE Standards Association History


The IEEE-SA's involvement in electrical standards dates back to 1890, when the AIEE (American Institute of Electrical Engineers) proposed a recommendation for the practical unit of self-induction. As a pioneer in voluntary electrical and information technology standards activity, IEEE became a founding member of ANSI (American National Standards Institute) in 1918.

In 1963, when the AIEE merged with the IRE (Institute of Radio Engineers) to form the IEEE, a formal standards body was established to support standards development. Envisioning the expanded role that standards were to play in the future and their impact on industry, IEEE formed its first Standards Committee in 1963.

In 1973, the Standards Committee changed its name to the Standards Board, however the name change did not affect its core operation. The Standards Board was officially made a separate entity in 1976, with a seat on the IEEE Board of Directors.

In 1998, The IEEE Standards Board was reorganized, and given additonal autonomy as the IEEE Standards Associaton. As a standards body, the IEEE-SA has responded to changes in the marketplace and as a result, the IEEE-SA of today is quite different and innovative-but still committed to providing the most current, reliable standards knowledge.

In 2009, IEEE-SA was responsible for:

  • 866 active standards
  • 28 IEEE Standards Online Subscriptions
  • More than 15 Handbooks and Special Publications
  • 526 projects in hand
  • More than 450 technical working groups and committees
  • More than 10,000 individual IEEE-SA members in 95 countries
  • Nearly 50 IEEE-SA corporate members

On average, the IEEE-SA publishes 80 new and revised standards annually and conducts more than 245 standards projects ballots, in which a combination of approximately 13,000 individuals participate.

Major IEEE standards include:

  • The IEEE 802® wired and wireless networking standards for telecommunications (e.g., IEEE 802.11™ for local area networks, aka Wi-Fi).
  • The IEEE 1394™ standard, commonly called Firewire, for the serial buses that connect computer systems and peripherals.
  • The 12 Color Books, which are industry-proven standards tools for engineers involved in electrical power production, distribution and utilization in commercial and industrial power systems.
  • The National Electric Safety Code®, which sets electrical construction standards.
  • IEEE 1512™ standards for efficient communications in managing accidents, planned roadway closures, disasters and other transportation-related events.
  • Software engineering standards, which are used throughout industry to maximize software development investments.

There is a complete year-by-year list of Standards Board members available here.

There is a complete year-by-year list of Standards Association Board of Governors members, available here.

For additional detail on the history of standards activity in the IEEE and its predecessors, see History of IEEE Standards

IEEE Standards Bearer Newsletter

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