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   Re: [xml-dev] ISO and the Standards Golden Hammer (was Re: [xml-d ev] Yo

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> > Characters sets and coding (ASCII, OCR-A, OCR-B, MICR, bar codes)
> > Audio and video compression (MPEG 1, 2, 4)
> > Graphics: GKS, PHIGS, CGM, JBIG
> > Messaging/mail: X.400
> > Languages: C, C++, Ada, SQL, FORTRAN, COBOL, Pascal, Modula-2, POSIX, CLI
> > Storage, networking, bus interfaces: SCSI, SCSI-2, FDDI, CSMA/CD, VMEbus,
> > Multibus, HIPPI, RS-232/V.24 electrical
> > Markup: SGML, RELAX NG, VRML
> > Geocoding: ISO 19100 (19107, 19108, 19123, 19127)
> Most of these weren't ISO/ITU committees, but were either private
> industry consortia, or other standards work that got a "finishing
> polish."

The origin of ISO standards is a mixed bag. Standards such as JPEG and MPEG were
created by expert groups affiliated with ISO. JPEG, for example, was originally
an ISO working group, then a joint group (with CCITT).

Before there was a de jure standard for C, the de facto standard was Kernighan
and Ritchie's book ("The C Programming Language"). You had to pay close
attention to what compiler and features you were using as the language evolved
past K&R.

Newer standards have been fast-tracked from "local" standards organizations or
industry consortia through the ISO process. Examples include

Perhaps a more interesting question is not how an ISO standard originated, but
what long-term impact we've seen from them:

1. ASCII was a draft ISO standard about 40 years ago. IBM owned 70% of the
computer market by the late 60s so EBCDIC was commonplace. The IBM user group
(SHARE) even opposed the adoption of ASCII in the mid-60s. Today it's hard to
find EBCDIC outside of the IBM mainframe world. On the other hand, ISO 646 / ISO
8859 web pages are pretty common -- clear evidence of the effect a standard can
have for several decades.

2. Admiral Grace Hopper and a CODASYL committee published the first spec for
COBOL in 1960 and it became an ANSI standard in 1968. There are two million
COBOL programmers today, long after Y2K is no longer on our radar screen. One
reason is because there are still 200 billion lines of COBOL code in production
applications. Most of the transaction processing code that runs every day is
COBOL ( processing 30 billion transactions per day).

Has COBOL persisted because it's elegant, or because it's a standard?


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