The Creation of ASC X12
Today's Foundation of Business-to-Business Electronic Exchanges
The first recorded EDI dates back to the 1850s when the railroads and Western Union used the telegraph
to communicate business information. Starting there, Samuel Morse's patented code was the single method
used to communicate across the lines.
Moving ahead to the 1960s, larger scale digital communication began supporting e-commerce. Companies
could exchange order information and delivery schedules, but no standard existed, so small business
enclaves created their own processes. Case after case, individual companies belonged to multiple enclaves
and were forced to use multiple data formats to exchange similar information. The need to converge
multiple data syntaxes and vocabularies was obvious.
With all the emerging benefits of electronic commerce - more powerful communications and exchanges,
faster response times, stronger relationships with trading partners - we needed standards to harness the
great potential of electronic commerce.
In 1975, the Transportation Data Coordinating Committee published its first standard and by 1979 ANSI
designated an accredited standards committee for EDI. This new SDO - Accredited Standards Committee X12 -
would lead the creation of EDI in an open, and neutral cross-industry environment, with processes rich
with meetings (virtual & face-to-face) and formal procedures that have produced broad-based consensus on
vocabulary implemented by 90% of the Fortune 1000 corporations.
Today ASC X12 continues to deliver a dictionary of data elements, data segments, business transactions,
messaging & enveloping. All of these elements are updated three times/year via established review &
approval procedures. These transactions are used across industries to support financial, manufacturing,
transportation, retail supply, and many other chains.
ASC X12 25-Year Timeline
ASC X12 formed, included representatives from transportation, government & computer manufacturer industries,
and created its first standard based on the TDCC structure. The committee's first meeting took place in
Rosslyn, Virginia with approximately 40 new standards developers present.
Publication of Version 1 of American National Standards, which are ANSI certified releases of draft X12
- Meeting frequency changed from 6 to 4 meetings/year
- Management Task Force formed to recommend changes to ASC X12
- Publication of ANS Version 2
- Project Teams form as precursors to functional Subcommittees
- The X12F Finance Subcommittee forms to serve the B2B needs of the financial industry. The Security
Work Group was then launched the following year from within X12F.
DISA chartered to serve as the administrative arm of ASC X12
- TDCC moved its transportation, warehousing and retail standards groups to ASC X12.
- ASC X12 created X12L, Industry Transitional Subcommittee, initially to migrate TDCC standards into X12
and eventually X12M Procurement & Distribution to provide a home for the warehousing transaction sets
Formed the Alignment Task Group to recommend steps to converge X12 standards and EDIFACT messages
- Meeting frequency changed from 4 to 3 meetings/year
- X12N Insurance Subcommittee created to serve the B2B need of the insurance and healthcare industry
- Publication of ANS, Version 3
- Executive Committee of the Steering Committee formed to guide strategic direction of ASC X12
ASC X12 is instrumental in having language included in HIPAA, ensuring ASC X12's role in bringing health
care administration one step closer to uniformity across the industry
- ASC X12 endorses for publication a single solution to the century issue. The committee's solution
defines the standard date in an eight-character format, which includes two characters for the first two
digits of the calendar year, and appears in ASC X12's best selling 4010.
- Strategic Implementation Task Group hosts its first meeting to address ways to determine the next
generation of EDI standards. SITG combines the efforts of the Business & Implementation Modelling and Long
Range Planning Task Groups, the future portion of X12C, the U.S. work of ISO/IEC JTC1/SC30 and represents
a consortium of ASC X12 strategy, research & development and implementation activities.
- Publication of ANS, Version 4
ASC X12 eyes modeled approach to Object Oriented EDI, and the potential synergy of X12 EDI and XML
- XML Task Group formed and charged with drafting policies and procedures that relate to ASC X12 and XML,
serving as a liaison to other XML organizations, and creating a common approach for EDI/XML development in
- Revamped the Operating Procedures Manual governing ASC X12
- ASC X12 completes HIPAA implementation guidelines key to industry compliance
- The Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA) transaction regulation is published
adopting nine X12 transactions for the health care industry. ASC X12 signs MOU with the Department of
Health & Human Services (HHS), Standards Development Organizations (SDOs) & Data Content Committees (DCCs)
to manage the EDI standards adopted under HIPAA.
- Process Integration Task Group created to build on existing frameworks within ASC X12 & EWG and helps
to define business processes and modeling
- Process Improvement Group formed to enhance processes across ASC X12
- ASC X12 & the UN/EDIFACT Working Group (EWG) initiate work to create a single set of business objects
(core components) that are valid within the ASC X12 and UN/EDIFACT business processes
- ASC X12 hosts first Summit on cross-industry collaboration on XML
- Giga endorses ASC X12 initiative to facilitate cross-industry collaboration on XML
- ASC X12 hosts second Summit on cross-industry collaboration on XML and shortly after establishes the
Convergence & Outreach Task Group to build communities to leverage industry expertise for XML collaboration
& convergence, forge cross industry alliances to further stimulate XML business messaging development,
harmonization & implementation within and across industries, and leverage ASC X12's historical role in
international e-commerce efforts.
- Industry analysts report that EDI is still on the rise, accounting for $3.2 trillion, and included in
86% of all B2B e-commerce.
- ASC X12 publishes ASC X12 Reference Model for XML Design
- ANSI approves ASC X12 charter expanded to include XML development
Gartner praises ASC X12's syntax neutral architecture - Context Inspired Component Architecture - enabling
the development of XML business messages and encourages a CICA-like approach for XML business development.
The report states: "CICA can transform XML standards development, and will enable creating and processing
XML messages on demand." In its conclusion, the report urges users to "push their standards organizations
to use the CICA framework when developing XML-based specifications."
- Publication of ANS Version 5
- Context Inspired Component Architecture (CICA) Technical Specification & XML Syntax Representation
approved for publication and widespread use across ASC X12 for developing XML business messages
- Published first set of XML schemas, based on CICA
- Endorsed two MOUs with HL7 and NCPDP
- Reestablished Tools for X12 Members program to aid in standards development activities
- Produced two conferences in collaboration with WEDI on Real-Time Adjudication and Health Savings
- Streamlined CICA message development via automated import and export of CICA data into the new and
improved CICA datastore
- Created new CICA courseware to increase CICA understanding, awareness and development across ASC X12
- Presented the WEDI X12 pre-conference forum: HIPAA X12 005010 Transactions Enhancements
- Hosted webinar series on 005010 Transactions Enhancements, Plan-to-Plan Personal Health Record (PHR) Data Transfer Implementation Guide Ballot,
Personal Health Record Implementation Guide
- Made downloadable 005010 implementation guides available at
- Integrated Data Modeling with Metadata Repositories
- Collaborated with IAIABC to Extend EDI Standards to Comply with Workers' Comp E-Billing &
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