Who created the IUPAC nomenclature system?

1 Answer
Jul 7, 2015

The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry created the IUPAC system of nomenclature.


Here's its fascinating story.

As early as 1782 the French chemist Louis-Bernard Guyton de Morveau recognized the need for standardized chemical nomenclature.

He published his recommendations and, over the years, other chemists attempted to improve on them.

When organic chemistry greatly increased the number of known compounds in the mid-1800s, the need for systematic nomenclature became acute.

An international congress of chemists met in Geneva in 1892 and agreed on the first set of rules.

In 1911, chemists from around the world formed the International Association of Chemical Societies (IACS) at a meeting in Paris.

The Council of the IACS set up a commission in 1913, but its work was interrupted by World War I.

After the war, the task passed to the IACS, which became the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) in 1919.

IUPAC appointed commissions for organic, inorganic, and biochemical nomenclature in 1921.

There was heated debate, and the first definitive IUPAC rules finally came out in 1930.

The IUPAC rules are contained in different coloured "books".

  • Blue Book — Organic Chemistry (~1300 pages of rules!)
  • Red Book — Inorganic Chemistry
  • Green Book — Symbols for Physical Quantities
  • Gold Book — Chemical Terminology
  • White Book — Biochemistry
  • Orange Book — Analytical Chemistry
  • Purple Book — Macromolecular Chemistry
  • Silver Book — Clinical Chemistry

There are periodic updates to the recommendations.

A recent change that affects organic chemists is the recommendation to put locating numbers as close as possible to their functional groups.

For example, the "Preferred IUPAC Name" (PIN) is now "but-2-ene", but 2-butene is still acceptable.