in 1947 as a means of developing voluntary technical standards,
ISO has touched almost every sector of business, industry and technology.
At first, the vast majority of ISO Standards were highly specific,
documenting technical specifications or other precise criteria to
ensure consistency in materials, products, processes and services.
Because of their technical nature, these standards were primarily
targeted to engineers.
Forty years later, in 1987, ISO expanded its technical scope to
create ISO 9000. This standard was broader and included standards
for non-technical functions. In 1994 other specific standards were
developed with ISO 9001, 9002 and 9003. These revised standards
set out the requirements for an organization whose business processes
included some element of design, development, production, installation
and servicing. In 1997, ISO 14000 was established, bringing ISO
to the attention of a much wider business community. ISO is currently
preparing for its next step in standards with ISO 9000: 2000, a
set of requirements which will take effect in 2003.
The ISO 9000 series standards were developed by the ISO Technical
Committee 176 (ISO/TC176), which was formed in 1979 to harmonize
the increasing international activity in quality management and
quality assurance standards. Subcommittee 1 was established to determine
common terminology. It developed ISO 8402: Quality-Vocabulary, which
was published in 1986. Subcommittee 2 was established to develop
quality systems standards the result being the ISO 9000 series,
published in 1987 (and then revised 1994).
The United States has input into this development process through
membership in ISO via the American National Standards Institute
(ANSI). This input is channeled through a Technical Advisory Group
(TAG). The American Society for Quality (ASQ) administers, on behalf
of ANSI, the U.S. TAG to ISO/TC176. Qualified U.S. experts participate
in the meetings where these documents are drafted. ASQ continues
to administer the U.S. TAG to ISO/TC176, and the United States continues
to contribute to this process of developing international standards
on quality assurance and quality management, and the generic supporting
technologies necessary for full implementation.