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Last modified: Friday, September 24, 2004 

A definition or format that has been approved by a recognized standards organization or is accepted as a de facto standard by the industry. Standards exist for programming languages, operating systems, data formats, communications protocols, and electrical interfaces.

From a user's standpoint, standards are extremely important in the computer industry because they allow the combination of products from different manufacturers to create a customized system. Without standards, only hardware and software from the same company could be used together. In addition, standard user interfaces can make it much easier to learn how to use new applications.

Most official computer standards are set by one of the following organizations:

  • ANSI (American National Standards Institute)
    • ITU (International Telecommunication Union)
  • IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers)
    • ISO (International Standards Organization)
  • VESA (Video Electronics Standards Association)
  • IEEE sets standards for most types of electrical interfaces. Its most famous standard is probably RS-232C, which defines an interface for serial communication. This is the interface used by most modems, and a number of other devices, including display screens and mice. IEEE is also responsible for designing floating-point data formats.

    While IEEE is generally concerned with hardware, ANSI is primarily concerned with software. ANSI has defined standards for a number of programming languages, including C, COBOL, and FORTRAN.

    ITU defines international standards, particularly communications protocols. It has defined a number of standards, including V.22, V.32, V.34 and V.42, that specify protocols for transmitting data over telephone lines.

    In addition to standards approved by organizations, there are also de facto standards. These are formats that have become standard simply because a large number of companies have agreed to use them. They have not been formally approved as standards, but they are standards nonetheless. PostScript is a good example of a de facto standard.

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    For pages about standard . Also check out the following links!

    Related Links

    Computer and communication standards index 
    Extensive collection of links to computer and communication standards information available on the Web, including committees, protocols,and testing information.

    The ISO Standards Glossary 
    This glossary of international standards is designed to provide a ready reference for those seeking the title of international standards.

    ANSI standards resource page
    Contains an index of U.S. and national standards organizations, committees, associations, and other related links.

    European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI)
    Home page of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI). Look here to find out current standardization projects, ETSI publications, papers on the challenges of standardization, and other resources.

    FAQ on IEEE standards
    Provides a list of acronyms and buzzwords to help identify an IEEE standard or a standard belonging to another standards-developing organization. In addition, there are answers to obtaining standards for various items like household appliances, DIN, and ISO 9000.

    IEEE 1284 Parallel Port information page
    Contains links to an introduction to the IEEE 1284 standard and operating modes, parallel port standards information, activities and news, FAQs, compatible products and links, and the IEEE standards organization home page.

    IEEE Standards home page
    This site hosts the IEEE SPAsystem, a set of information technologies intended to streamline the IEEE standards development process. Here, you can find links to FAQs, announcements, information on development standards, and guidelines.

    Index of current internet drafts
    Contains links to current Internet drafts. The drafts are listed alphabetically by working group acronym and initial post date.

    ISO OSI standards page
    This site lists OSI standards by reference number. Look here to find out which standard you need, but you can't download it - the standards must be purchased from the ISO.

    Network Standards Organizations
    Descriptions and links to the major international, regional, and national network standards institutes.

    Overview of formal standards
    Describes what a telecommunications standard is and gives an overview and links to telecommunications formal standards organizations.

    Standardization - ANSI
    Explains why there is a need for ANSI and standardization.

    Structured Cabling Standards
    Provides standards related to structured cabling. This page is hosted by Anixter Inc.

    VESA home page
    The VESA site contains association and membership information, news and events, published standards, committee activities, and technical support.

    Yahoo!'s computers and Internet standards page
    Yahoo!'s directory of computer and Internet standards.

    Yahoo!'s Internet Standards page
    Yahoo!'s directory of Internet Standards.

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