1995 - CEPIS Task Force Creates ECDL Concept
In 1995, the Council of European Professional Informatics Societies (CEPIS) created a task force, supported by the European Commission through the ESPRIT research program, to examine how to raise the levels of digital literacy throughout Europe. The new certification program was launched as the European Computer Driving License (ECDL) in Sweden in August 1996.
1997 - ECDL Foundation Established
ECDL quickly gained European-wide acceptance and a clear need was identified for the project to establish a central coordinating body to ensure a consistently high standard of implementation in all European countries. On the 8th January 1997, ECDL Foundation, a not-for-profit organization, limited by guarantee with no share capital, was formally established in Dublin, Ireland.
1999 - ICDL Introduced
As ECDL gained prominence in Europe, the number of candidates exceeded 1 million and continued to rise; this success attracted the attention of countries outside of Europe who began to take a strong interest in the concept. ECDL was subsequently introduced outside of Europe, where the certification became known as ICDL (International Computer Driving License).
Computer societies and international organizations in Africa and South America began promoting ICDL, and a milestone was reached in 1999 when UNESCO, through its Cairo office, signed an agreement with ECDL Foundation to become the national operator for several Arab States. Shortly afterwards, ICDL was launched in the North American and Asian markets.
2003 - ECDL / ICDL Advanced Introduced
ECDL Foundation expanded its program range in 2003, with the launch of ECDL / ICDL Advanced, a high-level certification program designed for those who have successfully reached ECDL / ICDL skills levels and wish to further enhance their computer proficiency.
Subsequently, additional programs for entry-level skills and for more specialized skills, e.g. website creation, have been launched.
2007 - ECDL / ICDL Syllabus 5 Launched
Since its initial conception, the ECDL / ICDL syllabus has continually evolved to reflect changes in technology and its use. In 2007, ECDL Foundation conducted a substantial review of ECDL / ICDL Syllabus 4.0 in order to ensure that it reflected ongoing advances in technologies and relevant practices. This resulted in the completion of ECDL / ICDL Syllabus 5.0 which will be phased in by national operators during 2009.
2011 – Over 11 Million Candidates in 148 Countries
ECDL Foundation continues to work with its national operators to extend the reach of its certification programs through an international network of approximately 24,000 Test Centers spanning 148 countries. Building on the success of delivering the ECDL / ICDL certification program, ECDL Foundation's range of certification programs has expanded to cover introductory courses for those with no ICT skills, through to advanced-level certifications for those looking to gain recognition for expert skills in specific applications, and within Europe, entry-level professional IT practitioner skills for those working within a dedicated IT environment.
ECDL Foundation is now recognized as a credible international voice and advocate on digital literacy issues, and works with other international organizations in the ongoing promotion of digital literacy as an important contributor for increased economic and social cohesion. In February 2009, José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission became the 9 millionth ECDL candidate at a ceremony highlighting both the success of the ECDL program and the necessity of keeping investment in digital skills high on the public policy agendas of all Member States.