ICIS 30 years – An Official History

SAN ANTONIO (Chemicals Confidential)–“History is written by the victors.” (Churchill)

So, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of ICIS, I shall write the official history, or at least the salient points:


1 ICIS was started in 1980 (really November 1979) in Paris by Humphrey Hinshelwood.


2 ICIS originally stood for Independent Chemical Information Services (There was a brief spell in the 90s when the C stood for Commodity.)


3 ICIS merged with LOR (London Oil Reports) in 1984.


4 Reed bought ICIS-LOR in 1994.


5 The first Methodology was produced in 1996. An expanded version was published in hard copy in 2001, and circulated to all subscribers in response to a request from BASF (photo below).


ICIS methodology.jpg6 The first ICIS Style Guide was published in 1994 to merge the informal guides held in the individual ICIS offices.

7 The original reports were distributed mostly by computer (made available to dial-up subscribers from a London server) but also by telex, then by fax.


8 The US office was established in Dallas by Tim Richardson in August 1981, and moved to Houston in November 1986.


9 The Asia office was set up in Tokyo in 1989, later moving to Hong Kong, and to Singapore in 1995.


10 The first ICIS conference was Styrene in Singapore in 1995.


11 On-line price history goes back to 1986. Before then, old reports were stored in filing cabinets, and were thrown out in the move from the Vauxhall office in 1995.


12 The first office was in Paris. The London office was first in Harrowby Street (Edgware Road), then Upper Brook Street (Mayfair), Upper Grosvenor Street (Mayfair), Spring Gardens (Vauxhall), then in 1995 Sutton. Paris closed in 1995.


13 My first contract is on writing paper from the original ICIS office in rue d’Alesia, Paris.


(Thanks to Brendan Drake, Linda Naylor, Pam Franklin, James Mills, Adrian Brown, Jane Massingham for details of the olden days which could have made a whole book.)

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4 Responses to ICIS 30 years – An Official History

  1. Lara McNamee 29 March, 2010 at 3:53 pm #

    I really enjoyed reading this Barbara – it’s lovely to read all about the history of ICIS. Here’s to another 30 years :-)

  2. Barbara Ortner 13 August, 2010 at 9:39 am #

    A 13th point from Julia today, who has scoured the report archive to prove that the ICIS-LOR brand was changed to ICIS in Q4 2005.

  3. jacqueline 15 December, 2010 at 1:06 am #

    Dear Barbara, I joined ICIS in Singapore about a month ago and have been wondering what the initials stood for. Thank you so much for answering that question and so much more. This should be distributed to all new starters I think! cheers, jacqueline

  4. Doris de Guzman 16 April, 2013 at 6:43 pm #

    Happy 30th anniversary ICIS! Glad to be part of the group!

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