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IEC Press Release: First IEC/IEEE International Standard Published under Joint Cooperation Agreement

New International Standard defines communication protocols for devices connected via IEEE 488 buses

Geneva, Switzerland / Piscataway, NJ, May 07, 2004

The first IEC/IEEE International Standard, which relates to instrument buses, has been published under a joint cooperation agreement. The publication of this standard under the joint agreement indicates how industry worldwide can benefit from a rational approach to international standardization that makes optimum use of existing, market-relevant technical standards.

The new IEC/IEEE standard, 60488-2, concerns the use of IEEE 488 buses in laboratory and manufacturing instruments and is based on IEEE 488.2(TM) standard.

The agreement between the two organizations seeks to enhance the development process for international standards. Where relevant IEEE electronic, power generation, telecommunication and other standards already exist, these can be proposed to the IEC for publication as IEC/IEEE Dual Logo International Standards. Under the agreement, the IEEE standards are submitted to the IEC Standardization Management Board for approval and processing by the relevant IEC technical committees. They are then subject to a vote by the IEC member countries and, if approved, are published as IEC/IEEE Dual Logo International Standards.

"The first standard under the IEC/IEEE agreement send a clear signal that the IEC is responding to market needs by avoiding duplication of standardizing efforts," says IEC General Secretary Aharon Amit. "If a suitable IEEE standard already exists that can meet market needs on an international level, then this agreement means these can be vetted, approved and published as true international standards. The agreement is an excellent model of how to fast-track standards development, and make rational use of industry's technical resources."

According to Judy Gorman, Managing Director of the IEEE Standards Association, dozens of other potential IEEE standards are being considered for this process. "The agreement opens the way for us to broaden our international standards collection and makes our standards more accessible. It also ensures that valuable work undertaken by IEEE volunteers benefits the entire global community."

IEC/IEEE 60488-2 defines communication protocols for devices connected via IEEE 488 buses and common commands and characteristics useful in a wide range of instrument applications. It includes message- handling protocols, status reporting structures, and system configuration and synchronization protocols. IEEE 488 buses (or general purpose interface buses) have been in use for more than 25 years and are built into millions of instruments worldwide. They enable communication among controllers (usually a computer) and instruments in research, test and production settings, such as oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers and digital multimeters.

IEC/IEEE 60488-2 can be obtained from the IEC at or the IEEE at

About the IEC
The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is the global organization responsible for developing and publishing international standards and specifications for all electrical, electronic and related technologies. The membership consists of more than 60 participating countries, including all of the world's major trading nations and a growing number of industrializing countries. Its standards are used in more than 100 countries as the basis for national rules and standards. For additional information on the IEC, see

About the IEEE Standards Association and the IEEE
The IEEE Standards Association, a globally recognized standards-setting body, develops consensus standards through an open process that brings diverse parts of an industry together. These standards set specifications and procedures based on current scientific consensus. The IEEE-SA has a portfolio of more than 870 completed standards and more than 400 standards in development. Over 15,000 IEEE members worldwide belong to IEEE-SA and voluntarily participate in standards activities. For further information on IEEE-SA, see

The IEEE has more than 375,000 members in approximately 150 countries. Through its members, the organization is a leading authority on areas ranging from aerospace, computers and telecommunications to biomedicine, electric power and consumer electronics. Additional information about the IEEE can be found at

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