Section Six: What is the History of  XBRL?

The short history of XBRL is traced back to 1998. In April 1998, Charles Hoffman, a CPA with the firm Knight Vale and Gregory in Tacoma, Washington investigated XML for the electronic reporting of financial information. Charlie began developing prototypes of financial statements and audit schedules using XML. Charlie informed Wayne Harding, Chairman of the AICPA High Tech Task Force, in July 1998 about the potential of using XML in financial reporting. Wayne asked Charlie to brief the AICPA High Tech Task Force on XML in September 1998.

The AICPA High Tech Task Force created a "Product Description" proposing the creation of a prototype set of financial statements using XML by the AICPA. Karen Waller, CPA, AICPA staff and member of the High Tech Task Force helped perfect this product description.On October 2, 1998, Wayne Harding presented the results of the High Tech Task Force to the AICPA Committee on Committee Organization. As a result of this presentation, the AICPA determined to fund the project to create a prototype set of financial statements in XML.

On December 31, 1998 the prototype developed by Charlie Hoffman and Mark Jewett (Erutech) was completed. Jeffery Ricker (XML Solutions) contributed to the initial prototype. The CPA firm of Knight, Vale and Gregory, underwrote 50% of the development cost of this initial prototype. On January 15, 1999, this prototype was presented to the AICPA. Wayne Harding and Charlie Hoffman convinced the AICPA that XML was important to the accounting profession.

The AICPA requested that a business plan be prepared to look into the business case for XML and in particular XML-based financial statements. The project was code named XFRML. That business plan was completed on June 15, 1999. This business plan was created by Charles Hoffman, CPA (Independent CPA); Wayne Harding, CPA (Great Plains); Eric Cohen, CPA (Cohen Computer Consulting); and Louis Matherne, CPA (AICPA Director of I.T.).

On July 17, 1999 the AICPA Board of Directors determined to fund the XFRML effort.

In August, 1999 12 companies quickly joined the effort (along with the AICPA) as members of the XFRML Steering Committee. The initial steering committee included: The AICPA, Arthur Andersen LLP, Deloitte & Touche LLP, e-content company, Ernst & Young LLP,, Inc. (now Edgar Online, Inc.), FRx Software Corporation, Great Plains, KPMG LLP, Microsoft Corporation, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, and The Woodburn Group.

The AICPA began implementing the business plan on August 30, 1999 when it announced that an XML financial reporting specification would be created.Charles Hoffman created an Experimental Prototype of XFRML beginning in July 1999. This prototype was completed October 13, 1999. The financial statements of 10 companies were created to further test the concept of XML-based financial statements.

The first meeting of the XFRML Steering Committee took place in the offices of the AICPA New York City on October 14, 1999. The name of the organization was officially changed to the XBRL steering committee on April 6, 2000. On July 31, 2000, the XBRL committee announced the on-time release of the first specification for U.S. companies, XBRL for Financial Statements. Membership in the XBRL steering committee grew to more than 50 entities, including several International professional organizations.


  1. See   Web Site for further information.

Articles for further Study: 

Finally, Business Talks the Same Language, BY STANLEY ZAROWIN AND WAYNE E. HARDING   A journal of Accountancy article which nicely lays out both the mechanics and the strategic importance for using XBRL for financial reporting.

The XML Files, by Charles Hoffman, Christopher Kurt, and Richard J. Koreto, May 1999..

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Copyright 2008 Saeed Roohani, XBRL Education