The company, then under another name, was established in 1945 with the mission to improve and simplify colour design and communication. The main product was the Hesselgren & Sjögren colour sample collection with 258 colours. In 1952, the renowned Hesselgren Colour System was launched with 600 colours and soon became the common architectural specification colour tool in Sweden.
Following decades of internationally recognised scientific colour research, the company was, in 1978, renamed Scandinavian Colour Institute, SCI (now NCS Colour AB), with the task to make the value of the scientific work of NCS - Natural Colour System available to the market and to make colour communication more simple, accurate and consistent. The owners wanted to secure a common colour language in the industry to improve colour design and rationalise communication.
When NCS turned five years, it became necessary to export NCS to be able to satisfy the demand, and thus expand the operation. Orders from designers in Switzerland, Denmark, Norway and companies such as ICI (now Akzo Nobel), Sigma Kalon (now PPG), Jotun, Alcro Beckers and Akzo Nobel proved that export was necessary and the continued success of NCS enabled SCI to continue to build its presence as a globally recognised authority on colour and colour communication.
One of the largest strategic decisions and changes was made in 1995, and it concerned quality and environmental issues. SCI took decisive action to the dangers posed to our environment, and the needs of highest colour accuracy and consistency, to secure the right colour being realised in a global design- and manufacturing environment. Only EU approved pigments were used, cadmium and lead was removed from the NCS Colour Samples and the most narrow colour tolerances were set in cooperation with major paint manufacturers. The second edition of NCS Colour Sample Collections was released in 1995. In 2004, 200 new colours were introduced into its standardised collection (as a result of demand from many leading architects and international paint companies). The new edition was named NCS 1950 Original. The strategic decision laid the groundwork for NCS to become the global quality leader and one of the world's most used colour notation systems today.
Until 2006, SCI was owned by Målaremästarna (Association for Swedish Painting Contractors). Today SCI is a privately owned company and operates under the name NCS Colour AB.
NCS is adopted as a national standard for colour in Sweden, Norway, Spain and South Africa, has an extensive international distributor network with more than 100 employees throughout the world and it is used by hundreds of thousands of architects, designers and companies in over 60 countries.
1611: Swedish /Finnish Aron Sigfrid Forsius publishes one of the first colour spaces in the world, which inspired the scientists in their further research of NCS.
1874: Ewald Hering publishes 'Das natürliche System der Farbempfindungen' (The Natural System for Colour Perception).
1930's: Colour research starts by Tryggve Johansson based on Hering's findings.
1945: A multitude of activities are initiated that eventually result in forming the company, which later was renamed Scandinavian Colour Institute.
1952: Hesselgren's colour system (developed by Architecture prof. Sven Hesselgren) is launched. It was based on Johansson's ideas and further developed by Hesselgren.
1964: During the 1960's and 1970's, within the Swedish Colour Centre Foundation, more than 100 man-years of scientific R&D work by architects, designers, psychologists, physicists, chemists and colour scientists resulted in the NCS - Natural Colour System®©.
1978: For the commercial realisation of NCS, the company was named the Scandinavian Colour Institute AB (now NCS Colour AB). Målaremästarna (Association for Swedish Painting Contractors) took on the ownership.
1979: The first edition of NCS – 1412 colours. NCS is launched as a Swedish national standard (SIS). It very soon became the colour design and communication tool for the majority of architects and designers as well as the industry.
1984: 118 new colours were added and the success continued when NCS also became the Norwegian national colour standard.
1985: DIN Deutsches Institut für Normung e.V. (German Institute for Standardisation) shows their support to NCS in an official press release in December 1985.
"It is unbelievable that today in 1985/86, there is still no established metric-convention for colour. The understanding of colour is yet, to a large extent, subject to coincidence. To relieve the decision-making process and to set an example for an understanding without national selfishness, the DIN Deutsches Institut für Normung e.V., has decided to support the Swedish colour system Natural Colour System and abandon its established DIN-colour system."
- Laue. D; Deutsches Textilforum 4/87
1994: NCS is adopted as Spanish national colour standard and receives an ISO 9002 Certificate for production of NCS Colour Samples.
1995: The second edition of NCS Colour Samples - 1750 colours, environmentally approved pigments according to EU guidelines, world leading colour accuracy and consistency, a quality guarantee. NCS Global Quality Management begins.
1997: AIC (Association Internationale de la Couleur) award, the international scientific colour society's recognition and award for the NCS scientists' exceptional work.
1998: ISO 9001 Certificate for the production of NCS Colour Samples.
2004: 200 new colours – now 1950 colours in total. NCS becomes South African national colour standard. NCS has become an industrial standard worldwide.
2006: NCS has grown fast and export share is 84%. To meet growing international demand and expansion NCS Colour AB gets new owners to take on this challenge.
2009: New digital product enters the market – NCS Navigator, web application
2011: Colour design and exact and stable colour become more essential for the global industry and its possibilities to reach its customers demand. NCS Colour Management becomes an important solution for quality conscious manufacturers and designers worldwide.
2013: New digital product enters the market – NCS Selector for Adobe, extension