ECIA is Proud to Mark 100 Years of Service to the Electronic Component Industry

This year marks 100 years of ECIA’s service to the companies making up the electronic component sales channel. While it hasn’t been a straight line from the Association of Radio Manufacturers in 1924 to what is now the main association serving the components industry, it is an interesting and instructive story that illustrates our connection to the broader and world-changing electronics industry.

“There is no better teacher than history in determining the future,” declared Charlie Munger, co-founder of Berkshire Hathaway. “There are answers worth billions of dollars in a $30 history book.” So, what can we learn about the future by understanding the evolution of the ECIA?

Associations form when the industry faces challenges that companies doing business in it cannot solve on their own. For 50 radio manufacturers in 1924, the business challenge was licensing for the exploding number of patents for this new technology. The trade group known as the Associated Radio Manufacturers enabled each member to have access to the relevant patents necessary to build radio transmitters, antennas, and receivers. When televisions were invented, the association became the Radio Television Manufacturers Association, and eventually evolved into the Electronic Industries Association in 1957.

In a parallel universe, companies selling radio parts faced another business challenge: cutthroat price wars. The founders of the National Association of Radio Parts and Accessories Distributors (NRPDA) believed that by working together for the profession, they could ensure the viability of the industry. The association was formed in 1937 and changed its name to National Electronics Distributor Association (NEDA) in 1942.

Meanwhile, the business challenges of the Electronics Industry Association were evolving. The organization's headquarters were in Arlington, Virginia. Counterfeit components, standards development, including for military grade components, and end market-based groups were needed to address specific business needs.

The EIA therefore divided its activities into the following sectors:

ECA – Electronic Components, Assemblies, Equipment & Supplies Association

JEDEC – JEDEC Solid State Technology Association, former Joint Electron Device Engineering Council

GEIA – (now part of TechAmerica), Government Electronics and Information Technology Association

TIA – Telecommunications Industry Association

CEA – Consumer Electronics Association

With growth came complications. The EIA announced in 2007 that it would be dissolved into its constituent divisions and transferred operations soon after. The Alliance formally ceased to exist on February 11, 2011.

EIA designated ECA to continue to develop standards for interconnect, passive and electro-mechanical (IP&E) electronic components under the ANSI-designation of EIA standards. All other electronic components standards are managed by their respective sectors.

The ECA merged with the National Electronic Distributors Association (NEDA) in 2011 to form the Electronic Components Industry Association (ECIA). The EIA standards brand continues for IP&E standards within ECIA.

Robin Gray, who joined NEDA as executive director in 1994, and was instrumental in the merger with the ECA in 2011, reflects on the necessity of evolving with the industry. “Change is essential in the fast-moving electronics industry, but it's never easy...Bringing the different constituents together is the only way to solve common challenges. The one thing that never changed at ECIA was its commitment to serving the industry and its members.”

The formation of ECIA also enabled the expansion of the association to include the independent manufacturers’ representative, an important player in the authorized channel. While NEDA focused on distributors, the new association included distributors, manufacturers, and manufacturers’ reps, which shifted the focus to the entire supply chain supporting the authorized channel.

What are the business challenges facing the ECIA in 2024? Electronic components arguably provide the basis for innovation in nearly every aspect of human endeavor. It’s hard to name one thing that hasn’t been transformed by electronics. Not just for entertainment and communications, electronics is used for food production, home management, energy, transportation, and national defense.

As electronics manufacturing became a global operation, the problem of counterfeit components has increased exponentially. Supply chain integrity and efficiency requires the companies in the sales channel to work together to enact new business processes and counterfeit detection measures. The launch of, a secure online platform enabling buyers to source components only from the authorized channel, was one such very successful solution.

The ECIA’s tagline, Connect, Influence, Optimize sums up the value of the current embodiment of the component industry’s response to its business challenges. Bringing together the entire channel – the component manufacturers, their authorized distribution partners, and the manufacturers’ representatives enables the comprehensive solutions ECIA has achieved in the past 100 years. Here’s to another 100 years of innovation and success!