The following article appeared in March/April 2016 edition of Metric Today, the newsletter of the US Metric Association (USMA). It is being re-posted with USMA’s permission.
USMA and Metric Today anniversaries
The USMA newsletter, Metric Today, was first published in April 1966, 50 years ago. It was started by the USMA President at the time, Louis Sokol. That was a time of increasing interest in metrication, as much of the world that was not yet metric was considering the change. For many countries the change to metric was preceded by their conversion to decimal currencies; many of those countries had been using the former British system of pounds divided into shillings and pence, having been British colonies. That change took place in more than 60 countries, some of them quite small. Most of the decimal currency change took place in the 1950s thru the early 1970s; followed by similar conversion to the metric system in those same countries. Luckily the US already had a decimal currency system, so it did not need to make that change.
The USMA newsletter was first simply called the Metric Association Newsletter, then the USMA Newsletter, and finally Metric Today in 1990. The details of this can be found on the USMA website at www.us-metric.org/metric-today.
In addition to USMA’s newsletter anniversary, it’s also the 100th anniversary of the founding of the American Metric Association in December 1916. Like the newsletter, USMA has had a few name changes over the years, first to Metric Association, and then US Metric Association. Information on USMA history can be found at www.us-metric.org/a-brief-history-of-the-us-metric-association-1916-to-the-2010s/. The Metric Association was initially associated with the American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS), holding meetings jointly with that organization, later having their own national meetings, including particularly large meetings during the 1970s and 1980s.
Although there was a newsletter in those very early days, called Measurement, that collection is incomplete, as are most of the details of this organization’s history till the current newsletter started 50 years ago.
USMA continues to support the metric cause, as we see more and more metric use in the US. We are not blind to the fact that metric is far from complete here, but we certainly see progress, especially in international activities, and because the US non-metric fraction of the world economy is now smaller than that of other metric countries. We welcome new, active members to USMA, hoping to continue the cause that is still inevitable, but certainly not happening as quickly as most of us would like.
The Metric Maven website contains a three-part series of articles to mark the 100th anniversary of USMA since it was founded in 1916. These articles contain detailed information about the history of USMA over the last 100 years. Readers can access them at the following links: