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The History of the Metric System. Système International d’Unités (SI units). By: Omar Alba Karina Peralta Dianne Edwards Vincent Gant Adam Batista. Table of Contents. 4 TH Century B.C. In The Beginning Solution Problem Important Dates References/Sources. 4 th Century B.C.

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the history of the metric system
The History of the Metric System

Système International d’Unités (SI units)


Omar Alba

Karina Peralta

Dianne Edwards

Vincent Gant

Adam Batista

table of contents
Table of Contents
  • 4TH Century B.C.
  • In The Beginning
  • Solution
  • Problem
  • Important Dates
  • References/Sources
4 th century b c
4th Century B.C.
  • First Decimal System was introduced by Sumerians of Mesopotamia.
in the beginning
In The Beginning
  • No one knew the exact size of a foot, so everybody would have different measurements.
  • As a standard for measurement, they used Hercules foot.
  • The Greeks were responsible for setting a standard of measurement.
  • Not everyone had the same size of Hercules foot.
  • 1790, the French created a standard form of measurement called the Metric System
  • Published “The Tenth”, which explains how to convert decimal fractions.
  • “Decimal” is the Latin word for “ten”.
simon stevin
Simon Stevin

Born: 1548 in Bruges, Flanders ( now Holland)

Died: 1620 in Hague or Leiden

  • Gabriel Mouton, doctorate in theology, was credited for originating Metric System.
  • Born: Lyons, 1618
  • Died: Lyons, 28 Sept. 1694
  • His most famous work Observationes diametrorum solis et lunae apparentium was published.
  • The U.S. Mint was formed to produce the world's first decimal currency (the U.S. dollar consisting of 100 cents).
  • France officially adopted the metric system.
  • Napoleon temporarily suspended the compulsory provisions of the 1795 metric system adoption.
  • Mendenhall order Thomas Corwin Mendenhall, decided that the international meter and kilogram would in the future be regarded as the fundamental standards of length and mass in the united states, both for metric and customary weights and measures.
  • This was then knows as the Mendenhall Order, and was  published as Bulletin No. 26 of the Coast and Geodetic Survey under the title Fundamental Standards of Length and Mass.
  • The Metric Association formed as a nonprofit organization advocating adoption of the metric system in U.S. commerce and education.  The organizational name started as the American Metric Association and was changed to the U.S. Metric Association (USMA) in 1974.
  • Guide To The Use of the Metric System (SI)

This is a 34-page book published by the Metric Association which tells about metric units and their symbols and how to use them correctly.

This book is made up of an introduction, four chapters, followed by four appendixes and an index all dedicated to the SI system.

  • During the 10th meeting of the General Conference on Weights & Measures (CGPM) the first six base units for the Internal System of Units were accepted.
  • These six units were:
    • meter (distance/length)
    • kilogram (mass)
    • second (time)
    • Ampere (electric current)
    • Kelvin "kelvin“ (temperature)
    • Candela (luminous intensity
  • The SI is created

Based on the 1954 CGPM and the 1958 CIPM recommendation, the six base units are given the name "Systeme International d'Unités.”

As the SI, they also did away with the older cgs units such as erg, dyne, and calorie. They said these units should only be used if necessary.

  • CGPM defines the meter in terms of light wave lengths.
  • One meter is the as distance traveled by a ray of electromagnetic energy through a vacuum.
  • 1/299,792,458 (3.33564095 x 10-9) second.
  • Rather than 10-7 or the distance of length, of the meridian through Paris from pole to the equator.
  • The National Bureau of Standards (NBS) which is a federal technology agency that develops and promotes measurement, standards, and technology, makes the metric system it’s standard, except when it may interfere with communication.
  • CGPM also restores the liter as 1 mL = 1 cm3 exactly,
  • The U.S. Metric Study resulted in a Report to the Congress: A Metric America, A Decision Whose Time Has Come. The U.S. secretary of commerce recommended the 13-volume report which concluded that the U.S. should "go metric" under a ten-year voluntary national program, believing that the U.S. would be predominately metric by that time.
  • The National Metric Conference, the largest ever held, included the UCLA/USMA/LACES/STC/and other professional groups, took place at the University of California, Los Angeles. The U.S. Metric Association (USMA) coordinated and directed this event which took place as a result of their recommendation. One of the speakers was the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.
  • Also, the American National Metric Council (ANMC) formed as a trade organization to plan and coordinate SI implementation by U.S. industry.
  • The Education Amendments of 1974 (Public Law 92-380), encouraged educational agencies and institutions to prepare students to use the metric system of measurement as part of their education.
  • Convention of the Metersigned in Paris by 18 nations, including the U.S. often called the treaty of the meter in the U.S. it provided for improved metric weights and measurements and establishment of the General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM)
  • The Metric Conversion Act of 1975 (Public Law 94-168), was passed by Congress. The Act established the U.S. Metric Board to plan for and encourage the change to metric in the United States. However, the Act does not specify a conversion schedule.
  • The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1978, (Pub. L. 95-599), outlawed metric road signs, so that federal funds wouldn’t be used for installing metric signs.
  • President Ronald Regan disbanded the U.S. Metric Board and canceled its funding.
  • The Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 amended and strengthened the Metric Conversion Act of 1975. The Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 was to enhance the competitiveness of American Industry. The Metric Conversion Act of 1975 was to set the standard of weights and measurement of the U.S.A. to metric.
  • As a result of Meter convention, the U.S. received a prototype meter and kilogram to be used as measurement standards.
  • April 15, all four of the Canadian Stock Exchanges began decimal trading. This was the first North American abandonment of the old "pieces of eight" trading system. In the old "pieces of eight" tradition of trading stocks, the dollar value was divided into increments of one-eighth of a dollar, or 12.5 cents.
basic units common prefixes
Basic Units & Common Prefixes
  • Basic Units

METER:A little longer than a yd. (about 1.1 yds.)

LITER:A little larger than a qt. (about 1.06 qts.)

GRAM:A little more than the weight of a paper clip

  • Common Prefixes

(to be used with basic units) For Example:

milli: one-thousandth (0.001) 1000mm = 1m

centi: one-hundredth (0.01) 100cm = 1m

kilo: one-thousand times (1,000) 1000m = 1km

other commonly used units other useful units
Other Commonly Used Units & Other Useful Units
  • Other Commonly Used Units

millimeter: 0.001m diameter of a paper clip wire

centimeter: 0.01m a little more than the width of a paper clip

(about 0.4in.)

kilometer: 1000m somewhat further than ½ mile

(about 0.6 mile)

kilogram: 1000g a little more than 2lbs. (about 2.2lbs)

milliliter: 0.001L five of them make a teaspoon

  • Other Useful Units

hectare: about 2 ½ acres

metric ton: about one tone

  • Multimedia Encyclopedia for Windows ver 1.2
  • All You Will Need to Know About Metric,
  • Gabriel Mouton,
  • Simon Stevin,
  • Did you know?,
  • Uncertainty,
  • Whatis?.com, finition/0,,sid9_gci523539,00.html
  • SI Background,