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What is ISO?
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is a worldwide federation of national standards bodies from more than 140 countries, one from each country.
ISO is a non-governmental organization established in 1947. The mission of ISO is to promote the development of standardization and related activities in the world with a view to facilitating the international exchange of goods and services, and to developing cooperation in the spheres of intellectual, scientific, technological and economic activity.
ISO’s work results in international agreements which are published as International Standards.
ISO’s name
Many people will have noticed a seeming lack of correspondence between the official title when used in full, International Organization for Standardization, and the short form, ISO. Shouldn’t the acronym be “IOS”? Yes, if it were an acronym ? which it is not.
In fact, “ISO” is a word, derived from the Greek isos, meaning “equal”, which is the root of the prefix “iso-” that occurs in a host of terms, such as “isometric” (of equal measure or dimensions) and “isonomy” (equality of laws, or of people before the law).
From “equal” to “standard”, the line of thinking that led to the choice of “ISO” as the name of the organization is easy to follow. In addition, the name ISO is used around the world to denote the organization, thus avoiding the plethora of acronyms resulting from the translation of “International Organization for Standardization” into the different national languages of members, e.g. IOS in English, OIN in French (from Organisation internationale de normalisation). Whatever the country, the short form of the Organization’s name is always ISO.
What are standards?
Standards are documented agreements containing technical specifications or other precise criteria to be used consistently as rules, guidelines, or definitions of characteristics, to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are fit for their purpose.
For example, the format of the credit cards, phone cards, and “smart” cards that have become commonplace is derived from an ISO International Standard. Adhering to the standard, which defines such features as an optimal thickness (0,76 mm), means that the cards can be used worldwide.
International Standards thus contribute to making life simpler, and to increasing the reliability and effectiveness of the goods and services we use.

Some examples:

Related Links

  • ISO Standards ( – Glossary of ISO standards

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