Sunday Dec 23, 2007

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.

About

I currently live in San Francisco Bay Area. For the past seven years, I have been designing and building messaging solutions for Sun.

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