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The Origins of EDI

The Origins of EDI

origins of EDIPhoto appears courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.  For all you trivia lovers and history buffs...this is for you.  The origins of EDI began in the 1960s when computers first had the capability to exchange data with each other.  The first industry that wanted to use this technology was the transportation industry, thus the TDCC (Transportation Data Coordinating Commitee) was formed.  Edward Guilbert, who is known as the Father of EDI, was directly involved with the creation of translation rules among four existing sets of industry-specific standards and the first standards were subsequently published in 1975.  Around that same time, the first Value Added Network (VAN), Telenet, came into existence.  And four years later, the ASC X12 committee was formed to develop the same standards for other industries.

The same standardization issues were also happening elsewhere in the world and eventually led to the creation of TRADACOMS and later EDIFACT.  Meanwhile, the newly formed ASC X12 committee was busy developing standards for a variety of industries including transportation, banking, warehouse, food and pharmaceuticals.  The committee, comprised of various members of the business community, published the first multi-industry standards in 1981.  Other big changes were taking place in the 1980s!  In 1982, the automotive industry saw the positive impact EDI could make and General Motors and Ford imposed a mandate on their suppliers.  Walmart jumped into the EDI game and the rest is history.

EDI technology has gone through many changes in recent years.  One big change is the introduction of AS2 (Applicability Statement 2).  Walmart of course, has a lot to do with AS2's popularity, but there is a definitely a surge in the use of AS2 over VAN communication.  Another big change is the use of XML.  There is much controversy about XML versus EDI, so I'll leave that debate for another article, but the point is that in spite of the fact that EDI is standards based, it's always changing and always evolving.  I wonder if Edward Guilbert ever imagined what those first standards would do to change the way we do business???  I wish I could ask him...

Aurora Technologies/EDI Support, Inc specializes in EDI implementation and data integration solutions.  For more information, please contact Shandra Locken, at shandra@edisupport.com or 800-404-9182 x25.     

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