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The UPC Barcode – The Most Scanned Barcode in the World

Posted April 24, 2013

In has been 40 years now since a group of grocery store executives collectively decided to help unify product identification with the use of a barcode. No one would have know at that time that a simple set of black and white lines would become one of the most important technologies for trade in the 20th century.

The Universal Product Code (UPC) was the first movement to a standardized tool that every manufacturer and retailer could use to easily track products, maintain inventory better, and help speed up check-out lanes at the point of sale. The humble UPC hasn’t changed much since its creation in April 1973 but continues to provide an easy and efficient means to manage any product throughout its life cycle.

To better illustrate the UPC bar code’s extensive use and importance, Brussels-based nonprofit GS1, which maintains international UPC standards, has posted an online ticker to count the number of bar codes scanned around the world each day. According to GS1, the average number of daily scans clocks in at more than 5 billion! To think all this started with the first scan of a 10-pack of Juicy Fruit gum at a Marsh Supermarket in Troy, OH in 1974.

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Evolution of the Barcode

Posted March 26, 2013

Even though Barcodes are in use all around us everyday, do we really know how they work or came to be developed? Since they are such a valuable and essential technology, we often don’t think about them because they work so well! Manufacturers like Intermec, provide a wide range of scanning options from the basic handheld SG10T to rugged mobile computers like  the 70 Series. With the right scanner, any application can become more efficient and accurate.

This infographic is a simple and easy guide to the basic history and evolution of the mighty barcode.


Co-Creator Of The Barcode Dies

Posted December 14, 2012

The co-inventor of one of the most indispensable technologies of the 20th century that labels every retail product, the barcode, has died. The death of Norman Joseph Woodland, who was 91, was confirmed by his daughter, Susan Woodland. She said he died on Sunday in Edgewater, New Jersey, from the effects of Alzheimer’s disease and complications of advanced age.

Mr Woodland and Robert Silver were students at Philadelphia’s Drexel University when Mr Silver overheard a grocery store executive asking an administrator to support research on how product information could be captured at checkouts. The pair earned a patent in 1951 with Mr Woodland’s idea to create a shape of concentric circles. The technology did not catch on until the 1970s, when Mr Woodland’s employer IBM promoted a rectangular barcode that was adopted as the standard.

The barcode may have come from a humble beginning but has become the de facto means of tracking any kind of product or process today. Woodland’s innovation and contribution to the technology was crucial to improving businesses around the globe.


Happy Birthday! The Barcode Turns 60!

Posted October 16, 2012

Now a common place tool used at almost all levels of business, the barcode is now celebrating 60 years of use!

The now-ubiquitous patch was first patented in 1952. The first design, invented by Norman Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver, resembled a circular bullseye. Originally created to help speed up the check out lines at a grocery store, they are now use to track almost anything.  Asset management, inventory, POS, and ID issuance are just some examples of processes that would be much more difficult with out the help of barcodes.

Today, 60 years after the barcode was first patented, there are more than 5 million individual barcodes in use around the world.  Oddly enough, one of the first retail products to use a barcode was Wrigley’g gum!  Through the years, many different types of codes have been developed, but none as popular and well-known as the UPC barcode, used on retail items, and the quickly advancing QR code you can scan with your smartphone.

Wherever you look you can find the barcode hard at work.  With advancements in scanner technology and more flexible barcode development, we’ll hopefully see another 60 years of barcodes!