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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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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!