In 1947, a small group of government specifiers began meeting to discuss the need for uniform specifications. In March of the next year, the Construction Specifications Institute was founded. The organization's goals were better specification writing, simpler specifications, standardization of specifications for public works, standardization of building codes, and the study of new materials and construction processes to achieve greater efficiency and cost effectiveness throughout the industry.

    The first chapter was formed in New York City in 1951. At its first annual convention, in 1957, CSI had twelve chapters and nearly 1,500 members. Membership exceeded 5,000 in 1961, and passed the 15,000 mark in 1981.

    During its first twenty years CSI members produced countless studies, proposals, and dissertations on construction products and procedures. In the late '60's, CSI established a research foundation to study information formats and use of computers for preparing specificaitons. The foundation, which later became the Construction Sciences Research Foundation (CSRF), developed SPEC-DATA, a standard format for product information, and COMSPEC, a computer program that automated some aspects of specification writing.

    The first Manual of Practice was published in 1967, and 1978 saw the introduction of MasterFormat, the current standard for organizing construction information. Further standardization was made possible by SectionFormat, which governs the content of specification sections, and PageFormat, which provides guidelines for the way section content is arranged in print.

    The first certification program appeared in 1985; there are now four courses of study for those who wish to demonstrate their expertise in preparing and interpreting construction documents. (See the Certification Page for more information.)

    CSI's most recent products are PerSpective, a computer program for soliciting and responding to owner requests for proposals, and the Uniform Drawing System (UDS), which is a key part of the newly adopted National CAD Standard.

    In 1984, a Corresponding Committee was initiated, made up of member volunteers. The committee is used as a resource for technical expertise for reviewing documents prior to publication. In 1992, a Personal Data Form was created to help organize and select members to help with CSI programs. Members may volunteer by contacting their Region Technical Chair or the Institute.