EDI Standards Bodies – Brief History
EDI Standards are what set EDI apart from other electronic methods of transferring data. Before getting into details about administration of EDI standards such as ANSI ASC X12 or UN/EDIFACT, it is important to understand why standards are used.
EDI standards are built on the concept of making electronic business documents uniform, without regard to country or place of origin or industry. Even though a purchase order for a steel manufacturer will be different from a hospital purchase order, the EDI standard ensures the document’s integrity. The EDI standard provides the controls needed to track the exchanged electronic business documents and confirm that all the data that was sent, was in fact, received and processed by the trading partner.
The roots of EDI can be traced back 19th century use of telegraph for communicating business transactions. There were many experiments and events that eventually lead to the EDI usage that exists today. For example, in the 1950s and 1960s computer paper punch cards were converted to punch tape and transmitted through Telex networks to a trading partner. The trading partner would receive the Telex punch tape and convert it back to a punch card for input into the computer.
Some EDI transaction sets that are still in use today were created in 1975 when the TDCC (Transportation Data Coordinating Committee) gathered representatives from the transportation industry to create a first set of formal EDI transaction standards. These transaction sets were primarily created for the transportation industry. TDCC is often referred to as the original publicly published EDI standard.
The work did not stop there. The manufacturing, retail and financial industries were all using proprietary means for exchanging business documents electronically; as this usage grew the need for a generic set of standards for transactions such as purchase orders, invoices, and payments became more and more evident.
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