SAE stands for Society of Automotive Engineers. The Society classifies motor oils into certain viscosities, such as SAE 30, and the general temperatures in which they are best used, according to Mobil Oil.
The Society of Automotive Engineers was formed in 1916 and some of its past presidents and members have been responsible for many of the technological innovations that have occurred in the automotive industry, according to the Society's website. An important step occurred in the 1950s when the organization recognized the globalization of the automotive market. SAE entered into cooperative agreements with organizations in Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, Australia and India.