Happy Birthday Barcode!!!

Walking into the super market counter and while the cashier does his billing procedure we wait and watch his actions, he picks up each object and turns it to a certain position and shows it to a red light and the machine beeps; then the cost and other information of the product comes up…

The barcode, those strange line patterns had been seen around us since long back and today is its 60th birthday.

The idea came up when a graduate student, Bernard Silver, at Drexel Institute of Technology in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA overheard the president of the local food chain, Food Fair, asking one of the deans to research a system to automatically read product information during checkout. He informed this to his friend, Norman Joseph Woodland and together began working on a variety of systems. After leaving Drexel, Woodland moved into his father’s apartment in Florida, and continued working on the system. His next inspiration came from Morse code, and he formed his first barcode from sand on the beach. “I just extended the dots and dashes downwards and made narrow lines and wide lines out of them.”

On 20 October 1949 Woodland and Silver filed a patent application for “Classifying Apparatus and Method”. The patent was issued on 7 October 1952 as US Patent 2,612,994.

The black and white, wide and narrow dashes did not make it to the market until 1974 because the laser technology used to read them did not exist till then.

The Technology

A linear bar code is a binary code (1s and 0s). The lines and spaces are of varying thicknesses and printed in different combinations. A scanner reads the patterns and decodes the textual meaning.

To The Market

The first company to produce barcode equipment for retail trade using (using UGPIC) was the American company Monarch Marking (1970), and for industrial use, the British company Plessey Telecommunications (1970). However, the first commercial product to use the technology was Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum, at a Marsh’s Supermarket in Troy, Ohio–one of the test stores used by the NAFC–Clyde Dawson purchased a 10-pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum which was scanned by cashier Sharon Buchanan.

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4 responses to “Happy Birthday Barcode!!!

  1. Pingback: Barcode in Banking – A tool to minimize fraudulent documents. « Simple Financial Mantras·

    • true! I still remember standing and wondering when the scanner beeped on the code and the machine got the price info….until I learned the mechanism behind it… glad u liked it!

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