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History of ISA

ISA officially was born as the Instrument Society of America on 28 April 1945, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. It was the brainchild of Richard Rimbach of the Instruments Publishing Company and grew out of the desire of 18 local instrument societies to form a national organization. Rimbach is recognized as the founder of ISA.

Industrial instruments, which became widely used during World War II, continued to play an ever-greater role in the expansion of technology after the war. Individuals like Rimbach and others involved in industry saw a need for the sharing of information about instruments on a national basis, as well as for standards and uniformity. The Instrument Society of America addressed that need. On 28 April 1945, a group of visionary thinkers from local instrumentation societies met to organize ISA.

Albert F. Sperry

Albert F. Sperry, chairman of Panelit Corporation, became ISA’s first president in 1946. In that same year, the Society held its first conference and exhibit in Pittsburgh. The first standard, RP 5.1 Instrument Flow Plan Symbols, followed in 1949, and the first journal, which eventually became today’s InTech, was published in 1954.

In the years following, ISA continued to expand its products and services, increasing the size and scope of the ISA conference and exhibition, developing symposia, offering professional development and training, adding to technical Divisions, and even producing films about measurement and control.

In one of its first collaborative Member efforts, ISA formed a committee to establish ISA's original logo.
Official Program for ISA’s first conference and exhibition in 1946.

Membership grew from 900 in 1946 to 6,900 in 1953, and today ISA has thousands of members all around the world.

Recognizing ISA’s international reach and the fact that its technical scope had grown beyond instruments, in the fall of 2000, the ISA Council of Society Delegates approved a legal name change to ISA—The Instrumentation, Systems, and Automation Society.

In October 2008, the Council voted to rename the Society to the International Society of Automation, a name that reflects our global nature and inclusive membership base. With our global growth, we continue to set the standard for automation now more than ever. And our name says it all.


Celebrating 75 Years in 2020

In 2020, ISA celebrated 75 years of:

  • advocating for the people and technology that move societies and economies forward.
  • creating and supporting industries that power our world.
  • difference-makers and risk-takers on whose shoulders we stand today.

Our members, volunteers, and communities have supported ISA for 75 years. Their support, passion, and dedication ensure that ISA will spend the next 75 years advancing our vision—to create a better world through automation.