The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is a non-profit, non-governmental international standards organization that prepares and publishes International Standards for all electrical, electronic and related technologies – collectively known as "electrotechnology". IEC standards cover a vast range of technologies from power generation, transmission and distribution to home appliances and office equipment, semiconductors, fibre optics, batteries, solar energy, nanotechnology and marine energy as well as many others. The IEC also manages three global conformity assessment systems that certify whether equipment, system or components conform to its International Standards.
The IEC charter embraces all electrotechnologies including energy production and distribution, electronics, magnetics and electromagnetics, electroacoustics, multimedia and telecommunication, as well as associated general disciplines such as terminology and symbols, electromagnetic compatibility (by its Advisory Committee on Electromagnetic Compatibility, ACEC), measurement and performance, dependability, design and development, safety and the environment.
The IEC held its inaugural meeting on 26 June 1906, following discussions between the British IEE, the American Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) (then called AIEE), and others, which began at the 1900 Paris International Electrical Congress, and continued with Colonel R. E. B. Crompton playing a key role. It currently counts more than 130 countries. Sixty-seven of these are members, while another 69 participate in the Affiliate Country Programme, which is not a form of membership but is designed to help industrializing countries get involved with the IEC. Originally located in London, the commission moved to its current headquarters in Geneva in 1948. It now has regional centres in Asia-Pacific (Singapore), Latin America (São Paulo, Brazil) and North America (Boston, United States).
Today, the IEC is the world's leading international organization in its field, and its standards are adopted as national standards by its members. The work is done by some 10 000 electrical and electronics experts from industry, government, academia, test labs and others with an interest in the subject.
The IEC was instrumental in developing and distributing standards for units of measurement, particularly the gauss, hertz, and weber. They also first proposed a system of standards, the Giorgi System, which ultimately became the SI, or Système International d’unités (in English, the International System of Units).
In 1938, it published a multilingual international vocabulary to unify electrical terminology. This effort continues, and the International Electrotechnical Vocabulary remains an important work in the electrical and electronic industries.
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