Metric system in the U.S.

On this day, in 1975, President Gerald Ford signed the Metric Conversion Act into law thus establishing the U.S. Metric Board to coordinate the conversion to the metric system—also known as SI.

But some Americans refused to give up their familiar measurements. In 1982, President Ronald Reagan disbanded and stopped funding the U.S. Metric Board.

25 years later, metric is standard all over the world, except three countries—the United States, Liberia, and Myanmar.

The other day, I bought a pair of door handles from IKEA, but the screws that came with the package weren't long enough, so I headed to my neighborhood OSH store. Only then did I realize that IKEA screws are measured in millimeters, and the man in the yellow jacket told me although they carry some metric screws, most screws sold in the US are manufactured in inches and since the size I needed was quite unusual, it's quite unlikely I would find it. So I returned the door handles.

Under pressure of globalization, America going metric should be just a matter of when, not if.

Comments:

I'll tackle the easier of the problems here - I'm not so sure that I can help in a significant way with getting the US to switch to SI.

I'm not familiar with OSH, but I assume it is on par with Home Depot or Lowes. I've typically found that if you need specialty hardware (e.g. metric screws) you are best off going to a hardware store such as Ace or True Value.

Posted by Mike Gerdts on December 23, 2007 at 11:04 PM PST #

"Thus the metric system did not really catch on in the States, unless you count the increasing popularity of the 9mm bullet." Dave Berry

Posted by Otmanix on December 26, 2007 at 02:48 AM PST #

[Trackback] Bookmarked your post over at Blog Bookmarker.com!

Posted by yellow jacket on January 12, 2008 at 11:29 AM PST #

I had this same problem. I went to my local Home Depot and they had the ones I need at 1.5" in length. This was in Georgia. I've searched everywhere in Florida and have been unsuccessful. Should have stocked up!

Posted by christina on January 15, 2008 at 06:48 AM PST #

Don't worry, car and metal industries will undermine the inch/pound with the metric system. Too bad, Bin Laden doesn't favor the imperial system. If that was true, homeland security would have made provisions to teach and implement metric in a month. On the side, all NATO ammunition is metric, and you guys are using it successfuly in combat. Ergo, if there is a will, there is away. ---- and time will automatically solve it, but the U.S. this time will have to pay the price to fall further behind in word economy.

Posted by jgnacio la selva on November 03, 2008 at 06:38 PM PST #

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