March 2nd

Barcodes they are everywhere...

“Believe it or not, but the inventor Joe Woodland drew the first bar code in sand in Miami Beach, decades before technology could bring his vision to life…” While it may seem like barcodes have been with us forever, barcodes didn't really make an impact until the 1970's.”


In 1932, Wallace Flint suggested that an automated retail checkout system might be feasible. While his concept was unworkable due to technological challenges of the time, Flint continued to support the idea of automated checkout throughout his career. In fact, Flint, who went on to become the vice-president of the association of food chains some 40 years later, was instrumental in the development of the first linear barcode, the UPC code.

It 1948, when a local food chain store owner approached Drexel Institute of Technology in Philadelphia asking about research into a method of automatically reading product information during checkout. Bernard Silver, a graduate student at Drexel Institute, along with fellow student Joe Woodland, teamed up to develop a solution. On October 20, 1949, Woodland and Silver succeeded in building a working prototype. On October 7, 1952, they were granted a patent (US Patent #2,612,994) for their "Classifying Apparatus and Method". But the practical application did not really happen until 1974, when the first barcode scanner was employed and the first product barcoded.

Every few years, the small town of Troy in Miami County, Ohio celebrates an historic occasion that for a few weeks puts it on the world map of the grocery trade. At the time, National Cash Register, which provided the checkout equipment, was based in Ohio and Troy was also the headquarters of the Hobart Corporation, which developed the weighing and pricing machines for loose items such as meat. It was here, at just after 8 a.m. on June 26, 1974, that the first item marked with the Universal Product Code (UPC) was scanned at the checkout of Troy’s Marsh Supermarket.


Today, bar codes are everywhere. Rental car companies keep track of their fleet by means of bar codes on the car bumper. Airlines track passenger luggage, reducing the chance of loss (believe it or not). Researchers have placed tiny bar codes on individual bees to track the insects’ mating habits. NASA relies on bar codes to monitor the thousands of heat tiles that need to be replaced after every space shuttle trip, and the movement of nuclear waste is tracked with a bar-code inventory system. Bar codes even appear on humans! Fashion designers stamp bar codes on their models to help coordinate fashion shows. (The codes store information about what outfits each model should be wearing and when they are due on the runway.)

The innovation is dynamic. The linear bar code continues to evolve. Today, there are two-dimensional bar codes such as PDF 417 and MaxiCode capable of incorporating the Gettysburg Address in a symbol one-quarter of an inch square, or the Data Matrix which is capable to encode fifty characters in a symbol that is readable at 2 or 3 square mm and the fact that the code can be read with only a 20% contrast ratio.

Here is the list of barcodes most common in use today:

Linear barcodes:
Code 11, Farmacode or Code 32, Code 39,Code 49,Code 93,Code 128,CPC Binary,DX film edge barcode,EAN 2,EAN 5,EAN-8, EAN-13,Intelligent Mail barcode,ITF-14,MSI,Pharmacode,PLANET,Plessey,PostBar,POSTNET,Universal Product Code (UPC-A and UPC-E)

AR Code,Aztec Code,BEEtag,BeeTagg,Bokode,Code 1,Code 16K,ColorCode,Color Construct Code,Cronto Visual Cryptogram,CyberCode,DataGlyphs,Data Matrix,Datastrip Code,Digimarc Barcode,digital paper,DotCode,Dot Code A,DWCode,EZcode,Han Xin Barcode,High Capacity Color Barcode,HueCode,InterCode,JAB-Code

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