Below is an excerpt from: http://www.iaaf.org/mm/Document/Competitions/TechnicalArea/ScoringTables_CE_744.pdf
Developments in the Theory of Scoring Tables
From 1920, three concepts became prominent in the theory and development of
scoring tables. These have, in varying degrees, influenced all subsequent tables.
1) The fact that each unit of improvement in an athlete's performance gets
increasingly harder as the athlete approaches his ultimate. This can be
expressed statistically as follows: the probability of any athlete achieving or
exceeding a given performance rapidly gets less as the performance rises
towards the record. The score for a performance can be derived as the
inverse of that probability. The resulting scoring table is progressive but,
applied simply, this leads to an exceedingly progressive scoring table, and the
main challenge has been to control this excess.
2) The need to be able to compare the performance of an athlete in one event
with that of another in a different event or, indeed, in a different individual
3) The wish to have a really "scientific" basis for any scoring system. With the
growing research into human physiology and sports science, it seemed
possible that a basis could be found in physiological parameters, such as
heart beat, breathing rate, oxygen uptake or oxygen depletion and so on.
The interplay of these and other interests in the development of the scoring tables
over the past 65 years is a fascinating study.
1934 IAAF Scoring Tables
At the end of the 1920's the Finnish Federation set to work on a new set of
national scoring tables. An early decision was made to drop all fractional points,
the score in each event to range from 0 to 1150 points. The aim of the new tables
was that a performance in any event should score the same as an equally good
performance in any other event. To this end, seven standard performances in
each event (labelled A-G) were selected by experienced judgement. All the
performances scoring 1000 points would only be reached rarely by combined
events athletes. All the G performances would be reached occasionally by leading
boys. The range of performances in each event between A and G was subdivided
into 20 equal steps. The number of steps between the standard performance was
divided A, 1, B, 3, C, 3, D, 3, E, 3, F, 7, G, and a progressive curve was employed
such that the slope of A was twice that of G. The whole scheme clearly works
directly for field events, but not track events using time as the performance figure.
However, if the times are converted into average speeds for the race, these can
be used equally as well as distances in developing a scoring table.
The new scoring tables were calculated by J. Ohls from Finland in 1931. These
tables were progressive and corresponded to the formula P = f (eM), where P
means the points, e is the base of natural logarithms and M corresponds to the
performances. The tables were calculated for sprint events up to the hundredths
and the performance were evaluated only by full points. A zero point value was
allotted to average performances of pupils and the 1000 point value was near the
then world records. The tables were calculated up to 1150 points
The new scoring table was such a success when introduced in 1932 in Finland
that it was adopted by the IAAF at its next Congress in 1934. The main difference
consisted in the progressive character of the Finnish evaluation as against the
linear evaluation of decathlons at the Olympic Games in 1936 and at the
European Championships in 1938, 1946 and 1950