High beams, lower battery, on, off, play, pause, risk of electric shock and fragile: handle with care — what do these have in common? Most of the symbols you see on appliances, automobiles and other gadgets made since the mid-1970s can be traced back to a single document.Screenshot via the ISO OBPPublished by the International Electrotechnical Commission, ISO 7000 / IEC 60417 (aka “graphical symbols for use on equipment”) appears at a glance to be as dense and technical as it sounds. Yet icons featured in the collection are designed to be simple and universal — a modern hieroglyphic system for the whole world. These standardized graphics were made to be understood across languages and cultures. Some (like play, pause and stop) predate the set and were simply gathered into it while others were designed specifically for inclusion.