HISTORY OF GEDCOM
How did we get here?
Basically, about 25, 30 or so years ago, the organization that is now called FamilySearch recognized the need for a standardized way to pass genealogical information from user to user in computer format. [needs authority]
FamilySearch developed a standard for genealogical computer data transfer, called GEDCOM, until it was widely recognized and used as a way to pass information back and forth.
Needs passage about how its development progressed. Did GEDCOM "standardize" data? (By what means did GEDCOM "standardize" data? What "standards" did it come to represent?
About 10 years ago, FamilySearch determined that it was not one of the goals of their private organization to be in the business of being a standards developer for the entire genealogical community, and progress on the GEDCOM standard stopped. [cite best authority]
There was actually a great writeup done about 8 years ago on this subject by Bob Velke, the main developer for The Master Genealogist, and reprinted with permission by Dick Eastman (here's a link
to Dick Eastman's reprint). The writeup was actually done on the occasion of FamilySearch's adoption of XML as their standard programming language, but in fact the subtext of the announcement was that GEDCOM would not be developed any further.
It is important to note that, while the GEDCOM standard in all its forms to date is widely distributed, it is in fact still owned and controlled by FamilySearch. Absent any leadership from any other quarter, the GEDCOM standard has remained where it was since the last version was widely accepted in 1996.