By 1959 the growing use of computers, built by several different
manufacturers, showed the necessity for standardization
in operational techniques, such as programming, and also
input and output codes.
Such standards would make it possible to use data prepared
for, or even by, a computer made by one manufacturer to
be on a computer made by another with the minimum of alteration.
Also it would avoid duplication of work in the preparation
of, for example, programming languages by several manufacturers.
Though certain National Bodies had, before 1960, started
work on standards in this field, e.g. paper tape and codes,
there did not appear to be collaboration between them, nor
between the manufacturers themselves. Different countries
may have different requirements, so that it may not be necessary
to have the same standards everywhere, but the standards
should at least be compatible.
With the object of co-ordinating such work, the Heads of
the Companies of longest standing in Europe in the data
processing field (Compagnie des Machines Bull, IBM World
Trade Europe Corporation and International Computers and
Tabulators Limited) sent a joint letter to all the known
computer manufacturers within Europe, inviting these companies
to send representatives to a meeting.
This meeting was held on April 27, 1960, in Brussels; it
was decided that an association of manufacturers should
be formed which would be called European Computer Manufacturers
Association or for short ECMA, and a Committee was nominated to prepare the
formation of the Association and to draw up By-laws and
By December 1960 the form that the Association would
take was fairly well defined and it had been decided that
the headquarters should be in Geneva to be near the headquarters
of the International Organization for Standardization and
the International Electrotechnical Commission. On 17th
May 1961 the Association officially came into being and
all those Companies which attended the original meeting
became members. The constituent assembly was held on 17th June 1961.
Just prior to the official registration of Ecma, it was
invited to be represented at a Round-Table Conference to
be held in Geneva organized by ISO
to discuss standardization in the general field of computers.
This meeting resulted in the formation of TC97 and in the
organization of its own Working Groups, and Ecma was asked
to become a liaison member.
In 1987, when TC97 became part of ISO/IEC
JTC 1 ,
Ecma became A-liaison member of JTC 1.
To reflect the global activities of the Europe-based
Ecma organization the name was changed in 1994 to: Ecma
International - European association for standardizing information
and communication systems.
Though before 1994, ECMA was known as "European Computer Manufacturers Association", after 1994, when the organization became global, the trademark "Ecma" was kept for historical reasons.
In June 2011, Ecma International celebrated its "golden jubilee" in Divonne while organizing the 101st General Assembly. Our association indeed officially came into being at the constituent assembly which was held on 17th June 1961. Please find here the main presentations held during this celebration.
Ecma annually publishes its yearbooks called "Ecma Mementos". For the collection of all past Ecma Mementos please click here.
PS: a presentation on the first years of ECMA is available here. The audio file is available here.