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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.

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

    More Information

    Outstanding Page The Standards Page
    This site hosts a collection of links to standards documents by subject category and standards organizations on the Web. Updated on Aug 5, 1998

      CCITT/ISO Multimedia Standards
    List of CCITT/ISO multimedia standards with brief explanations. Updated on Aug 4, 1998

      Connected Encyclopedia's description of standards
    Explains what standards are, why they're needed, and how they're achieved. De facto and de jure standards are defined, and the Internet practice of using RFCs is explained.

      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. Updated on Aug 4, 1998

      Guide to Open System Specifications
    The Guide to Open Systems Specifications, hosted by the European Workshop for Open Systems is an on-line tutorial to help information and communications technologies users to identify and put in context the standards, profiles and other specifications that define Open Systems.

      How the Internet Runs!
    How the networks of world interconnect to become the Intenet. A free, lecture-based presentation on how the networks of the World interconnect to create the Internet. Covers NAP, PNAP, Internet History, Internet organizations and protocols.

      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. Updated on Aug 1, 1998

      Index of current internet drafts
    Contains links to current Internet drafts. The drafts are listed alphabetically by working group acronym and initial post date. Updated on Aug 5, 1998

      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. Updated on Dec 12, 1997

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

      OSI data transfer standards
    Contains information about various OSI data transfer standards and where to obtain them. Direct links to relevant sites and working groups are included. Updated on Aug 5, 1998

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

      Structured Cabling Standards
    Provides standards related to structured cabling. This page is hosted by Anixter Inc. Updated on Jun 8, 1998

      VESA home page
    The VESA site contains association and membership information, news and events, published standards, committee activities, and technical support. Updated on Jul 9, 1998

      Yahoo!'s computers and Internet standards page
    Yahoo!'s directory of computer and Internet standards. Updated on Aug 4, 1998


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