The origins of ISO 9000 lie in the second world war. The first (so called) quality management Standard was the AQAP series, designed to ensure conformity of output in munitions factories.

In the late ’60’s, process plant industries took up quality standards. In 1969, the Central Electricity Generating Board issued QA42 in an attempt to control suppliers of power stations. The cost of a power station was in the order of £700m, to delay for a year would cost a further £300m. This was the first manufacturing sector to take up formal quality management systems.

Other sectors soon followed. The problem being experienced by many was that different customers had differing requirements in terms of supplier quality assurance. This meant that suppliers were finding themselves being audited by many customers and for different requirements. The solution was to agree on one quality assurance standard and it seems that people considered the requirements of the AQAP series (which were translated into BS 5750) to be ready-made for the job. It is important to note that the thinking of the time was concerned with quality assurance, not quality.