OLE for Process Control (OPC), which stands for Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) for Process Control, is the original name for a standards specification developed in 1996 by an industrial automation industry task force. The standard specifies the communication of real-time plant data between control devices from different manufacturers.
As of November 2011, the OPC Foundation has officially renamed the acronym to mean "Open Platform Communications". The change in name reflects the applications of OPC technology for applications in Process Control, discrete manufacturing, building automation, and many others. OPC has also grown beyond its original OLE (Object Linking and Embedding) implementation to include other data transportation technologies including XML, Microsoft's .NET Framework, and even the OPC Foundation's binary-encoded TCP format.
After the initial release in 1996, the OPC Foundation was created to maintain the standard. Since then, standards have been added and names have been changed. As of June, 2006, "OPC is a series of standards specifications". (Seven current standards and two emerging standards.) "The first standard (originally called simply the OPC Specification"), is "now called the Data Access Specification", or (later on the same page) "OPC Data Access", or OPC Data Access Specification.