top of page
  • Writer's picturePJF Metrology South

Who Invented Metrology?

Throughout history, there has been much confusion in regards to units of measurement due to standards being altered, corrupted, or destroyed.

The universal agreement of measurement units would require the adoption of standards, so all could derive the same units of measure.

Where Standards Began

Initially, natural standards of length (hand, palm, span and digit) were used. Then the pharaoh Khufu decreed that a standard unit of length be fixed (this would be called the Royal Egyptian Cubit).

This standard worked to help the Egyptians measure angles, which was needed for the precision of the Great Pyramids.

Following the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans also followed measurement systems and standards to create their aqueducts.

Unfortunately, the Dark Age destroyed much of the history and knowledge which had been created.

Mankind's Technical Reawakening

After the dark ages, in the 10th century, the Arabic Numeral System was introduced by Spain. Once again, scientists needed an instrument that could help them measure and explore their theories.

The decision was made to derive the unit of length from a dimension of the earth. From the Greek word "metron," the word meter came to be, and was used to determine the basic distance from the equator to the North Pole.

Metric System & Measurements in the US

During the French Revolution, the metric system was created. While in the United States, at one time, each state had its own system of measurement.

This was until 1807 when Congress formed the Coast Survey. A mathematics instructor named Ferdinand R. Hassler became the superintendent of the Coast Survey, and he chose a bar made by Edward Troughton as his standard unit of length.

In 1901, a law was passed by Congress that introduced a law called the National Bureau of Standards. In addition to conducting basic research in several fields, this now maintains over 800 different standards.


bottom of page