Standardization forms part of human culture. Since time immemorial, humankind has tried to simplify everyday life and work by harmonization and standardization.

Standardization as we know and use it today was born during the industrial revolution of the 19th century. Increased trade in goods and, specifically, industrial products, the development of  transportation systems and more and more new machinery both promoted and required standardization for simplification purposes.

The British Standards Institution was the first national standardization institute (set up in 1901). In 1917, in the middle of World War I, DIN was founded in Germany.

The first Republic of Austria was established in 1920.

Have a look at the milestones of Austrian standardization in its European and international context:

1. Milestones 1920-1938

  • 1920 - Constituent meeting of the "Austrian Standards Committee for Industry and Commerce"  ("Österreichischen Normenausschuss für Industrie und Gewerbe", Ö.N.I.G.) on 23 September 1920. First president of the association: Prof. Wilhelm Exner. The first 13 technical committees begin their work. The focus is on engineering, electrical engineering and automotive engineering.
  • 1921 - The first ÖNORM standard is published. It defines metrical threads.
  • 1926 - Foundation of the International Federation of the National Standardizing Associations (ISA). The idea to globally develop standards according to a unified procedure is realized for the first time.
  • 1932 - The name Ö.N.I.G. is changed into "ÖNA Austrian Standards Committee" (Österreichischer Normenausschuß). Four persons are employed. They are in charge of 142 - 275 committee meetings every year. Between 40 and 60 standards are finalized.
  • 1938 - The end of the First Republic also represents the end of independent Austrian standardization.  The ÖNA is integrated into DIN and serves as its Viennese branch office. At that time, the body of Austrian standards contains 693 documents.

2. Milestones 1945-1969

  • 1945 - The ÖNA resumes standardization activities upon the reconstitution of the Republic of Austria after the World War II. Within two years, 50 standards committees are established for the most important economic sectors. Construction standards are especially important during Austria's reconstruction.
  • 1946 - Foundation of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The ÖNA is a founding member and involved in international standardization. However, standardization activities are mainly oriented to national requirements in all states.
  • 1954 - The Federal Standardization Act (Bundesgesetz über das Normenwesen) forms the statutory framework of standardization in Austria and emphasizes the importance of a common nation-wide set of standard specifications.
  • 1961 - Foundation of the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) with Austria as a member. This marks the birth of European standardization that today is a determinant of all standardization processes more than ever before.
  • 1969 - The ÖNA changes its name to "ON Österreichisches Normungsinstitut" (Austrian Standards Institute).

3. Milestones 1971-1989

  • 1971 - Amendment of the Standardization Act (Normengesetz) that formed the legal basis of the work of the Austrian Standards Institute to the end of 2015.
  • 1985 - European standardization obtains a new central meaning for Europe's future. The European Union adopts the "New Approach" and thereby significantly enhances the status of European standardization. From now on, the EU directives only contain essential requirements (safety, serviceability, health protection, environment, etc) while detailed specifications are provided by referring to European standards. These are developed in the committees of the European standardization organizations CEN and CENELEC (electrotechnology) on the basis of mandates given by the EU and EFTA.
  • 1986 - Standards increasingly prove to be a solution for environmental issues. In this context, Austrian experts do pioneering work on a Europe-wide scale.
  • 1987 - The first edition of the international series of standards on quality management, ISO 9000, is published. For the first time, management procedures are subject to standardization.
  • 1988 - A European organization is created specifically for the telecommunication sector: the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI). One of its most successful standards (GSM) contributes to the success of mobile phones and ensures Europe's leading edge for this this technology.

4. Milestones 1990-1996

  • 1990 - Europe becomes the central topic in the field of standardization. More and more European standards are taken over into the national body of standards and replace national documents, thereby lifting trade barriers between the EU and EFTA member states.
  • 1991 - The European and the international standards organizations – CEN and ISO – lay a new foundation for their co-operation. They sign the Vienna Agreement at the Austrian Standards Institute in Vienna. Therewith, parallel and redundant work is avoided on a European and international level. European and internationally developed standards are called EN ISO.
  • 1995 - Austria joins the European Union (together with Sweden and Finland). Austria has already been part of the "European Standardization Union" since 1961 and is an active contributer in many committees.
    Celebration of the 75th anniversary at Belvedere Palace. Federal President Thomas Klestil calls standards "the backbone of society in our modern world": "The brilliant idea of standardization institutions was and is to develop the standards needed in a lively dialogue of all those having a vital interest in normative rules rather than imposing and enforcing them from the top down."
  • 1996 - The Austrian Standards Institute is the first national standardization organization in the world to be certified according to ISO 9001. All processes of the organization are in accordance with the requirements of the respective standard and designed to best possibly satisfy the customers' needs and expectations.
  • CEN Sales Point. The Austrian Standards Institute is responsible for the global distribution of publications issued by the CEN Management Centre.

5. Milestones 1997-1999

  • 1997 - Upon the invitation of the Austrian Standards Institute, CEN holds its annual General Assembly in Vienna. Presentation of the calendar and exhibition project "Norm & Form" on standardization and design that is also shown in Brussels in 1998.
  • 1998 - Publication of the first ONR ("ON Rule"). These normative documents meet the economy's need for rules and specifications that are more flexible and faster than classic standards.
    Starting in 1998, the Consulting department organizes consulting and training courses for organizations, companies and authorities in various parts of the world. The projects – mostly in Central and Eastern Europe – are mainly financed through EU funds.
  • 1999 - New sectors discover the advantages of standardization for their purposes. Primarily the service sector uses the instrument of consensus-based documents for its regulation requirements. Examples are the training of scuba divers, the requirements for the quality of translation or call center services. The work performed in Austria often forms the basis for European and international solutions. The first service standard is ÖNORM D 1000 (transportation of art).
    Publication of the ten-thousandth ÖNORM: ÖNORM EN 71-1 about the safety of toys.

6. Milestones 2000-2010

  • 2000 - Services are certified as compliant with standards for the first time. Thereby, the Austrian Standards Institute responds to the increasing importance of standardization in the service sector also with regard to certification.
  • 2001 - Modern information and telecommunication technology also supports the development of standards. The Austrian Standards Institute establishes the so called "electronic FNA" (today "my Committee"). Work documents, minutes of meetings and important information are no longer delivered by conventional mail but made available on dedicated password-secured Internet pages. This ensures short information paths and quick processing of documents.
  • "10 years Vienna Agreement": Signed by the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) at the Austrian Standards Institute in Vienna in 1991, this co-operation agreement raises the efficiency of standardization activities and avoids parallel and redundant work at a European and international level. Top representatives of CEN and ISO meet in Vienna to discuss the further development of the Agreement.
  • 2002 - In addition to certification according to ISO 9001, the Austrian Standards Institute undergoes an audit according to the standard SQS 9004. The results confirm that the entire organization reaches a high degree of "business excellence" in all departments.
  • 2003 - Before the EU's enlargement on 1 May 2004 – ten states join the European Union at the same time – the European "standardization community" grows as well: At the end of 2003, all national standardization organizations of the accession countries are regular members of the European Committee for Standardization (CEN). Now, CEN and CENELEC (electrotechnical standardization) have 28 members (25 EU states plus the three EFTA countries Switzerland, Iceland and Norway).
  • 2005 - In its "World Trade Report 2005", the World Trade Organization (WTO) states that the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) as well as its partners IEC and ITU (electrotechnical and telecommunications standardization, respectively) are the most important organizations for setting voluntary, consensus-based standards.
    Under the motto of "come ON – norm & more", the Austrian Standards Institute organizes an information day and presents awards for excellent achievements in the area of publications on "standardization and society".
  • 2006 - The Austrian body of standards consists of over 18,000 documents, over three-quarters of them originate in Europe.
  • 2007 - After Rumania's and Bulgaria's accession (1 January 2007), the European Union has 27 members. Altogether, 30 states are represented in European standardization (CEN and CENELEC) by their national standards organizations.
    On the World Standards Day 2007 (Sunday, 14 October), Austrian Standards invites to "come ON 2007 – family & friends". Over 500 people use this opportunity to gain insights into the world of standards.
  • 2008 - Establishment of Austrian Standards plus GmbH. This subsidiary is responsible for the fields of sales & services, education and training and certification. Its objectiveIn is to provides added value and innovative solutions related to standards. At the end of 2008, the body of standards consists of over 20,000 documents for the first time ever.
  • 2009 - The new Customer Area located at the entrance of the building at Heinestrasse 38 is opened at the beginning of the new year. Now, a new meeting and consulting centre on standards is available for customers and visitors.
    From April 2009, the "Österreichisches Normungsinstitut" carries the new name "Austrian Standards Institute". This change reflects the further internationalization of the Institute's activities.

7. Milestones 2011-2016

  • 2011 - Austrian Standards' Director Elisabeth Stampfl-Blaha is elected vice president of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Her term as ISO Vice President Technical Management starts on 1 January 2012 and she serves in this function up to the end of 2016 (after re-election).
  • 2012 - The European Parliament adopts the EU Regulation on European standardization (No 1025/2012). This new legal framework becomes effective at the start of 2013. 
    For its customers – standardizers from Austria and abroad, attendees of seminars and courses, etc. – Austrian Standards sets up a new Meeting Center covering around 1,200 m² on its premises. The Meeting Center is officially opened by Federal President Heinz Fischer.
  • 2013 - The association Austrian Standards Institute and its subsidiary Austrian Standards plus officially operate under the common umbrella brand "Austrian Standards".
    The Austrian government includes the development of an Austrian standardization strategy in its work programme 2013-2018.
  • 2014 - To ensure adequate funding for the standardization system, Austrian Standards introduces a participation fee for experts taking part in the development of standards.
    Austrian Standards launches a new information and dialogue tour in Vorarlberg and the Tyrol in order to submit standards to a critical reality check in discussions with representatives of business, science, policy-making, administration and the media.
  • 2015 - At its New Year's reception, Austrian Standards presents the Living Standards Award for the first time. It rewards exemplary achievements in the application of standards and their development. The first award winners are the City of Vienna, the Province of Lower Austria and Teufelberger. From then on, the Living Standards Award is presented annually.
    In June, the Austrian government submits the draft of a new standardization act that, in spite of strong criticism, is passed by the National Council in December 2015 and partly becomes effective at the beginning of 2016 (Standardization Act 2016).
  • 2016 - In January, Austrian Standards sets up the "Austrian dialogue forum on construction – working together for clear and simple rules for building” in co-operation with the Federal Construction Trade Organization. The aim of the online discussions and working groups, in which a total of 400 persons and organizations take part, is to simplify the entire body of construction rules (ÖNORM standards, legal framework, etc.) - in terms of quality, quantity and co-ordination.
    An extraordinary General Assembly of the Austrian Standards Institute resolves to continue work in spite of the more difficult framework set by the Standardization Act 2016.
    Austrian Standards signs the EU's Joint Initiative on Standardisation (JIS) under the Single Market Strategy in Amsterdam. Its objective is to modernize the EU's standardization policy and to improve competitiveness.