Enabling a new technology
Electricity was the driving force for the 2nd industrial revolution and remains equally essential today, for the 4th industrial revolution.
As early as the 1880s, scientists started to realize that a lack of common terminology, measurements and ratings slowed the advancement of electrical science and hindered the development of markets.
When the International Electrical Congress convened at the World's Fair in St. Louis in 1904, the exhibits that occupied the Palace of Electricity used electricity of numerous different voltages, direct current or 1-, 2-, or 3-phase alternating current, with many different frequencies as well as a variety of connectors and plugs.
As a result, the Congress made a proposal for setting up a permanent international commission charged with establishing the terms and measurements for ratings of electrical apparatus and machines. Subsequently, the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) was founded in London and held its first meeting at Hotel Cecil on 26 and 27 June 1906 with Alexander Siemens as Chair.
Representatives of Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Holland, Hungary, Switzerland, Spain, Japan and the United States participated. Norway, Sweden and Denmark, although not represented were also members of the proposed organization.
At this meeting, Lord Kelvin, was elected the first President of the Commission and Charles Le Maistre became acting Secretary, a position Le Maistre retained until his death in 1953.