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The history of Federal Standard 595

The history of Federal Standard 595

The Federal Standard color system provide means of comparing colors
visually. It has its origin in the US Military complex and is still used
there as the primary source of color reference. The official name of of
the standard is Federal Standard 595B – Colors Used in Government

More importantly, FED-STD-595 is also old. Its origins reach back to
World War II when a problem of providing exact color specification to an
equipment subcontractor on the other side of the World became manifested
itself with obvious clarity.

The solution found then was to assign a reference number (or name if you
look at the contemporary British system) to specific color used, printing
them on sample color chips and then distributing the chips to the interested
parties. This way any paint manufacturer or paint contractor could
accurately mix a requested color.

The widespread applications of the standard in the military is the reason
for the prevalence of the FS 595b despite its apparent obsolescence as
compared to more modern color designation systems. FS 595 has also become a
de-facto standard in many non-military applications  such as historical
color research or the modeling industry worldwide.

Revision history


  • FS 595
    1 March 1956
    Federal Standard 595 was originally issued as a replacement for TT-C-595
    "Colors for Ready-Mixed Paint". It was a thorough revision of the
    latter, introducing completely new five-digit color identifications
    numbers in place of four-digit designators in TT-C-595.

    The initial standard contained 358 colors.

  • Interim Change Notice 1
    23 Dec 1959
    Added interim color X-14050
  • Addendum 2
    9 May 1960
    This addendum was issued by US Army Signal Equipment Support Agency and
    assumedly was intended as temporary "operational" measure. Colors 14087,
    24087, and 34087 (Olive Drab) were replaced with X-14087, X-24087 and

Revision A (FED-STD-595A), 1968-1989

  • Rev A
    2 January 1968
    This revision was approved with 438 colors, but issued with 437.
  • Rev A Chg 1
    2 Jan 1968
    Deleted the 37035 Black in favor of 37038 Black.
  • Rev A Chg 2
    17 Apr 1972
    Eight new colors were added in this revision to a total of 445.
  • Rev A Chg 3
    28 Apr 1972
    This change introduced 23 new colors to a total of 468. Colors 14050-X,
    14087-X, 24087-X and 34087-X were introduced permanently to the standard
    and thus dropped the suffix "X".
  • Rev A Chg 4
    1 Aug 1973
    27 new colors were introduced to a total of 495.
  • Rev A Chg 5
    1 Mar 1979
    Four colors were added to a total of 499.
  • New documentation edition
    March 1979
    Distributable documents (fan decks and binders) were entirely reprinted,
    but with an incorrect shade for 34087 caused by printing error.
  • Rev A Chg 6
    1 Feb 1980
    This change issued a self-adhesive chip for 34087 to cover the
    "incorrect" shade included in the 1979 reprint of documentation.
  • Rev A Chg 7
    1 Jan 1984
    The colors 14087 and 24087 (visually different from "correct" 34087
    issued in the previous change) were renamed to 14084 and 24084. 34087
    was renamed to 34088. This change also added 54 new colors to a total of
  • Rev A Chg 8
    30 Aug 1984
    This change was limited to cancellation of Chg 6 to prevent continued
    use of color designation 34087.

  • Rev A Chg 9
    29 May 1985
    Eight new colors were introduced to a total of 558 colors. Curiously,
    the new colors were published only as 3 x 5 cards, not as chips for the
    FS 595 fan deck.

Revision B (FED-STD-595B), 1989-today

  • Rev B
    15 Dec 1989
    Introduced 30 new colors to a total of 588. Included an addendum of five
    colors that were previously missed in printed documentation.
  • Rev B Chg 1
    11 Jan 1994
    Added 25 new colors to a total of 613.