With the introduction of computed tomography (CT) followed by other digital diagnostic imaging modalities in the 1970's, and the increasing use of computers in clinical applications, the American College of Radiology (ACR) and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) recognized the emerging need for a standard method for transferring images and associated information between devices manufactured by various vendors. These devices produce a variety of digital image formats.

The American College of Radiology (ACR) and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) formed a joint committee in 1983 to develop a standard to:

  • Promote communication of digital image information, regardless of device manufacturer

  • Facilitate the development and expansion of picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) that can also interface with other systems of hospital information

  • Allow the creation of diagnostic information data bases that can be interrogated by a wide variety of devices distributed geographically.

ACR-NEMA Standards Publication No. 300-1985, published in 1985 was designated version 1.0. The Standard was followed by two revisions: No. 1, dated October 1986 and No. 2, dated January 1988.

ACR-NEMA Standards Publication No. 300-1988, published in 1988 was designated version 2.0. It included version 1.0, the published revisions, and additional revisions. It also included new material to provide command support for display devices, to introduce a new hierarchy scheme to identify an image, and to add data elements for increased specificity when describing an image.

These Standards Publications specified a hardware interface, a minimum set of software commands, and a consistent set of data formats.