The Metric System was not invented by the French

The Metric System of measures was introduced by the First French Republic in 1799 and has developed into the SI system (International System of Units) recognised as the official measuring system of most countries around the world.

However, the system was not invented by the French.  John Wilkins, the first secretary of the Royal Society in London, published “An Essay towards a Real Character and a Philosophical Language” in 1668, where he proposed a decimal system which utilised linked properties of length, area, volume and mass.

The original metric system proposed by the French Republic was described in the French law of 18 Germinal, Year III (7 April 1795) and defined five units of measure:

  • The mètre for length
  • The are (100 m2) for area (of land)
  • The stère (1 m3) for volume of stacked firewood
  • The litre (1 dm3) for volumes of liquid
  • The gramme for mass.


Image: By L. F. Labrousse (engraver). J. P. Delion, Paris (publisher). ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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