The History of Federal Standard 595

The Federal Standard color system provide means of comparing colors visually. It has its origin in the US Military complex and is still used there as the primary source of color reference. The official name of of the standard is Federal Standard 595B - Colors Used in Government Procurement.

More importantly, FED-STD-595 is also old. Its origins reach back to World War II when a problem of providing exact color specification to an equipment subcontractor on the other side of the World became manifested itself with obvious clarity.

The solution found then was to assign a reference number (or name if you look at the contemporary British system) to specific color used, printing them on sample color chips and then distributing the chips to the interested parties. This way any paint manufacturer or paint contractor could accurately mix a requested color.

The widespread applications of the standard in the military is the reason for the prevalence of the FS 595b despite its apparent obsolescence as compared to more modern color designation systems. FS 595 has also become a de-facto standard in many non-military applications  such as historical color research or the modeling industry worldwide.

Revision history

FED-STD-595

Revision A (FED-STD-595A), 1968-1989

Revision B (FED-STD-595B), 1989-today

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