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SCPI (Standard Commands for Programmable Instruments) is a standard that defines a language for communicating with instruments based on messages. The majority of the GPIB instruments use the SCPI but also RS-232, Ethernet, VXI, PXI may use it. Several measurement instrument manufacturers have adopted this standard as HP / Agilent for example, allowing some communication uniformity between several devices.

Some examples of SCPI commands:

Instrument identification querry: *IDN? Instrument reset: RST Measure querry: MES?
GPIB or IEEE 488 is the specification that defines a parallel bus of digital communication over short distances. It is widely used in industry or scientific research to test applications and able to control instruments (multimeters, oscilloscopes, spectrographs, power ...).