The IPA was first published in 1888 by the Association Phonétique Internationale (International Phonetic Association), a group of French language teachers founded by Paul Passy. The aim of the organisation was to devise a system for transcribing the sounds of speech which was independent of any particular language and applicable to all languages.
A phonetic script for English created in 1847 by Isaac Pitman and Henry Ellis was used as a model for the IPA.
Where symbols appear in pairs, the one on the right represents a voiced consonant, while the one on the left is unvoiced. Shaded areas denote articulations judged to be impossible.
Information about the IPA
UCLA Phonetics Lab Data
IPA charts (include recordings of each phoneme)
IPA, International Phonetic Association
IPA-4-Linguists - a guide to using the IPA on your computer