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Barcode identification helps keep accurate tracking on inventory

Using a barcode identification system can help a company greatly. Whether helping accurately price items or helping them keep an accurate inventory of all products, a barcode identification system will more than pay for itself in the long run.

Barcode identification was first introduced, at least in an early form, in 1932. Students at the Harvard University Graduate School of Business Administration came up with a project where customers would look in a catalog and remove a punch card next to the desired item. After handing the checker that card, the checker would run it through the card punch reader and the system would tell people what item to pull from the inventory and deliver to the cashier.

However, modern barcode identification as we know it was not created until 1948. When Bernard Silver heard the president of a food chain asking a dean at Drexel Institute of Technology in Philadelphia for a system to automatically read product info when checking out, he mentioned it to his friend Norman Woodland. A teacher and graduate student at Drexel, Woodland set out to come up with a plan.  After several prototypes, they came up with an application called “Classifying Apparatus and Method.” The pattern of lines they devised is quite similar to the barcode identification used today. They were issued a patent for their application on October 7, 1952.

Silver died in 1962 before ever getting to see his application come in to commercial use. In 1966, the National Association of Food Chains (NAFC) was looking for a system to speed up checkout at the grocery store. By 1969, the NAFC had asked Logicon to develop a coding system. Logicon recommended the creation of the Uniform Grocery Product Code be formed. That committee adopted the UPC symbol you see on labels today. That idea was submitted by a developer at IBM named George Laurer. Laurer created his system by using the idea that Woodland (who was now an IBM employee) and Silver had come up with years ago.