Are we to accept quantization as a fundamental property of nature, the origin of which does not require or admit further investigation? To get an insight into this question we consider atomic systems as open systems, since they are by necessity in contact with the electromagnetic radiation field. This includes not only photonic radiation, but, more importantly for our purposes, the random zero-point or nonthermal radiation that pervades the Universe. The Heisenberg inequalities, atomic stability and the existence of discrete solutions are explained as a result of the permanent action of this field upon matter and the balance between mean absorbed and emitted powers in the equilibrium regime. A detailed study carried out along the years has led to the usual quantum-mechanical formalism as a powerful and revealing statistical description of the behavior of matter in the radiationless approximation, as well as to the radiative corrections of nonrelativistic QED. The theory presented gives thus a response to the question posed above, within a local, realist and objective framework: quantization appears as an emergent phenomenon due to the matter-field interaction.