International Standards and Conformity Assessment for all electrical, electronic and related technologies

News release – 2009 Number 15

A glimpse into the history of standards

Easy access to the present and historical collection of IEC International Standards through the IEC Webstore


Geneva, Switzerland, 2009-09-03 Consulting previous editions of standards may be essential for those who deal with technologies that evolve very rapidly. The first edition of IEC 62448, Multimedia systems and equipment - Multimedia E-publishing and E-books - Generic format for E-publishing, was published in April 2007 and replaced in February 2009, that is less than two years later, by a second edition.


The rapid emergence of Smart Grids may highlight the importance of keeping older versions of standards. Clearly, Smart Grid designers and operators are relying on state-of-the-art technology to develop their projects, but, because their starting point is more often than not a power grid that was built in the first half of the 20th century, the specifications and requirements of the time may be useful to understand the technological challenges they are facing.


Past editions of standards can also be used to track the history of a specific product. Take the portable, non rechargeable alkaline battery. It has been on the market since the mid-1950s, and standardized since 1957, when the first edition of IEC 60086 series of standards on primary cells and batteries was published. More than fifty years later, alkaline batteries are still marketed around the world and the IEC 60086 series of standards is still revised on a regular basis to reflect their technological evolution.


Libraries or technical colleges may have a particular interest in obtaining past editions of IEC International Standards because a complete collection of a particular standard may help understand students and researchers the technological evolution of a specific product.


In fact, the need to purchase past editions of publications can have many reasons, and may also include legacy and legal purposes and comparisons with the current edition.


Thanks to years of in-depth research, the IEC Central Office has been able to compile an electronic library and is now able to offer nearly all IEC Publications issued since the creation of the IEC in 1906.


While these publications could always be ordered through the IEC Central Office Customer Service Centre, their availability on the IEC Webstore allows customers to effortlessly view a list of past editions for any given standard. Today, over 8 000 replaced or withdrawn IEC Publications can be found and purchased online.


The collection of replaced and withdrawn publications deals with the complete scope of electrotechnologies addressed by the IEC, from terminology, cables or rotating machinery to multimedia, renewable energies or nanotechnologies, to name but a few.


To avoid any confusion with current editions these publications will show up in the search results in a dedicated section "Replaced / Withdrawn standard" and will carry a reference number starting with "P-". They will also display a watermark clearly indicating that they are obsolete.