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The History of Barcodes
Today, anyone under the age of 25 would likely have no idea that it was not that many years ago that the checkout clerk punched information into a big machine for every item that was purchased at their local grocery store. Today we quickly move through the checkout line with our products being scanned and product prices jumping up on a screen in front of us. How did we move from the old cash register to the modern scanner systems we use today?
In 1948 a graduate student named Bernard Silver overheard someone ask if there was a way to identify and track grocery products. Silver told his friend Norman Woodland about this challenge and the two of them began to investigate methods and systems to identify products at check out. They tried several ideas before coming on the idea of a barcode type system that could be printed on products and read by a scanner. They came up with two barcode patterns: one with vertical bars and one that used a circular pattern. They were issued patent 2,612,994 for their invention in 1952. Later this patent was sold to RCA. Woodland was hired by IBM were he encouraged IBM to further develop his ideas.
In 1959 David Collins, who worked at Sylvania, developed a barcode like system to identify rail cars. His system used reflective material that were arranged in stripes and were affixed to the side of rail cars. This system was tested by different railways during the 60's and was ultimately made a standard by the Association of American Railroads. However, due to technical problems and a lack of enthusiasm by the railways, the idea was abandoned.
In 1966 the National Association of Food Chains held a meeting to discuss if there was any way to automatically identify grocery items at checkout. Representatives from RCA attended the meeting and since they had purchased the Silver and Woodland patent they proposed a system based on patents circular barcode. RCA pushed their circular barcode idea over the following years as many other companies got involved. At another meeting in 1971 RCA demonstrated their circular barcode. Also attending this meeting were representatives from IBM. After the meeting one of the IBM marketing people realized that one of the two original inventors of the RCA patent, Woodland, worked for IBM in North Carolina. They quickly started a project headed up by Woodland to create their own barcode system. The circular RCA barcode had serious problems with smearing when applied being products. The IBM barcode was just vertical bars and did not suffer from the same problems.
At 8:01 AM on June 26, 1974 at Marsh's Supermarket in Troy, Ohio a pack of Juicy Fruit gum was scanned using the newly created IBM barcode standard. This barcode became what we know today as the Universal Product Code (UPC Code) that can be found on almost every product in the stores today. The receipt for this first barcode scanned package of gum is in the Smithsonian Museum.
It took many more years for this new barcode system to be widely adopted by the grocery industry, because the grocery stores did not want to invest in scanners until the products were all labeled with the new barcodes and the manufactures did not want to invest in the labeling equipment until there was a significant number of stores that had scanners. Because of this "chicken or the egg" dilemma the new barcode grocery idea almost died. However by the early 80;s the adoption of the new barcode system had a foothold and became an industry standard.
Today barcodes are on everything from our ID Cards to our toothpaste packaging.
ColorID can supply you with a number of barcode readers and ID printer's that are capable of printing barcodes on your badges.
About ColorID, LLC
Every year, ColorID assists more than 1000 colleges and universities and their project managers personally oversee 700 custom projects each year, including many small and large recarding projects. ColorID offers best-in-class products and solutions, including: contactless, smart and financial cards from every major manufacturer, multiple ID printer platforms; transaction and point-of-sale software and hardware, a variety of handheld devices for identification and tracking applications and biometrics solutions, including fingerprint and iris readers. The company’s manufacturing partners include: Iris ID, HID, Fargo, Datacard, CardSmith, Gemalto, Zebra, NiSCA, Evolis, Allegion, Aptiq, Magicard, Brady People ID, Integrated Biometrics, Oberthur, NBS, Vision Database Systems and many others.
Contact ColorID at 704-987-2238 or toll free in Canada and the US at 888-682-6567. Visit ColorID on the web at: www.colorid.com or email ColorID at email@example.com.
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