Six times a year, USMA members receive a publication titled Metric Today.
If you’re interested in supporting the work of USMA and receiving Metric Today regularly, see USMA’s membership information and application form.
For a sample Metric Today newsletter, send your name and address plus $1.00 to cover shipping/handling to USMA
The entire collection of Metric Today newsletters is available in a PDF archive on CD-ROM.
The history of Metric Today
The Metric Association, as it was originally known, was created on 27 December 1916 and began publishing a quarterly newsletter titled Measurement in October 1925.
Records of Association activities from those days are scarce, but this newsletter appears to have ceased publication in 1932.
Fast forward to the 1960s
The modern-day Metric Association Newsletter began in 1966. It covered association and national metric news, and documents the history of metric activity in the United States and British Commonwealth nations.
This newsletter started as the brainchild of the late Louis Sokol, who joined the Metric Association in 1958 and eventually became its President. Sokol brought his idea to Metric Association Secretary Fred Helgren, who gave his approval for the newsletter.
Sokol continued as newsletter editor until late 1992, when Valerie Antoine became the editor. She had already been involved in the newsletter’s production under Sokol’s editorship. In fact, she had been preparing the newsletter using word processing software on a Macintosh computer starting with the July-August 1980 issue. Paul Trusten later became the editor, and the current editor is Gary Brown.
Evolving title and appearance
The first issue in April 1966 was 4 pages prepared on a typewriter and offset printed. Beginning in November 1969, issues were typeset for a more professional appearance. Expansion to 6 pages, and then quickly to 8 pages, occurred in 1974 and 1975 respectively. That growth was the start of the so-called “golden years” of metrication in America, when much of the initial metric progress was made in many sectors of the U.S. economy.
For its first 7 years, the newsletter was the only American serial publication devoted entirely to metrication. When the Metric Association changed its name to the U.S. Metric Association in 1975, to better distinguish it from other metric associations, the newsletter name changed to the U.S. Metric Association Newsletter, shortened in 1980 to USMA Newsletter. The newsletter name changed again in 1990 to Metric Today.
Evolving frequency and sizes
The newsletter was issued quarterly until 1979, when it was issued six times a year. It has varied in length, reaching a maximum of 12 pages per issue several times in the early 1980s but eventually stabilizing at 8 pages.
The newsletter has also varied in paper size. Originally folded to letter-size paper, the newsletter adopted the ISO A4 size February 1973 until September-October 1980. The use of the A4 size resumed in 2002.
Also in 2002, the newsletter’s appearance was professionally redesigned by Darren Barker, a graphic artist on the staff of QSI Corporation in Salt Lake City. Jim Elwell, President of QSI, donated the services of his company’s artist for the redesign and has provided formatting and printing services to USMA ever since. At the same time, the production process changed to generate a PDF version of the newsletter, allowing us to make it available online before the printed copies are mailed.
All articles in the newsletter since its inception have been indexed into a database. The index lists all article titles as well as the names of many of the people that have been active in metrication down through the years. The index was originally produced to help USMA officers quickly find information contained in past issues, but it is also available as part of a complete newsletter archive. All past issues of the Metric Today, under its many names, have been scanned and are available as PDF files on a CD-ROM.
Metric Today features and columns
Among the recurring features in Metric Today over the years:
- A new column titled “Americans in Great Measure” started in 2013 is being written by USMA’s Vice President and Public Relations Director, Paul Trusten.
- A column titled “Technical SI” ran from 1985 to 1987, evolving into “Education and SI” — now known as “Metric Training and Education” — all faithfully provided by Martin Morrison.
- “From the (USMA) Webmaster” has been featured since 2005, informing newsletter readers of changes and additions to the USMA Web site.
- Since 1980 each newsletter has also included a “Did You Know” (DYK) section consisting of short items of metric interest that are worthy of mention.
- A series of articles titled “Metric Pays Off” appeared in 1992 and 1993 and was resumed in 2007. They chronicle the successes of many companies and industries that went metric, describing specific benefits achieved in the process. Many of those articles are also available on this Web site.
- The “Dateline Toronto” column, written by the late Joe Reid, ran from 1983 until 1994. It kept USMA members up-to-date on metrication in Canada as well as activities of our sister organization, the Canadian Metric Association.
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