Barcode History: The Start, Revolution, Innovation

What is the barcode history? Who discovered the barcode? When did they start using barcodes? Moreover, how did the use of barcodes revolutionized? Here is what you need to know. 

The Barcode History

The invention of the first barcode is dated as early as 1948 by two students at the Drexel University in Philadelphia. The name of the students is Bernard Silver and Norman J Woodland. They became interested in the problems surrounding the supermarket industry. 

What are the two major problems facing supermarkets back in the ’40s? Inventory management and the customer check-out process. The pair designed the first barcode to look like a bullseye. By 1952, the pair received the patent for the use of the first barcode. The first barcode worked in the first lab setting. However, due to the technology limitations at that time, the barcode seemed impractical. 

The Revolution of Barcodes

Collin’s KarTrak System

In the ‘60s, the first practical implementation of linear barcodes revolutionized. An MIT graduate named David J. Collins designed the system. What inspired the idea? When he worked on a railroad project in Pennsylvania, he noticed that he needs a system to track rail cars. The name of the project is Collin’s KarTrak system. He used orange strips and the 3M Scotchlite blue to encode the ownership details to have an individualized car number. 

Universal Product Codes

In the 70s, one of the original creators of the barcode innovated the linear UPC barcode (Universal Product Code). The bullseye barcode had its limitations because of the old printers. The bullseye barcodes ink smear when printed and the linear UPC barcodes did not, making it a practical choice for many industries.

Barcode History in the 80s

In the 80s, most supermarkets in the US adopted the use of barcode scanning technology. Furthermore, it made the job of supermarket workers easier, faster, and more efficient. The Universal Product Code (UPC) is the barcode of choice; that is why all retail products you find in supermarkets have UPCs in them.

CueCat in the 2000s

In the year 2000, many publishing companies in the US like Forbes, Parade, and Wired magazine began to print barcodes next to the advertisements and articles. The purpose was for readers to scan the article to “Learn more” or “Read further”. All of this happened even before the advent of mobile phones. The only device that can read the barcodes in magazines is the device called CueCat. It looked like a computer mouse, except that it is in the form of a cat. Genius! It was too cute!

The Barcode Innovation

UPC Barcodes for Point-of-Sale (POS) Businesses: In 1974, an Ohio Supermarket marked the first use of UPC barcodes in supermarkets. This started the era of retail product identification for barcode scanners. This increased the efficiency in retail supermarkets, speeds up the check-out process, and the shopping experience made more convenient. This also decreased human error which leads to significant savings for supermarket chains.

Barcodes in Transportation and Logistics: The barcode technology innovated in the transportation and logistic industry to track packages on their whereabouts. In addition, barcodes allow transportation and logistics companies to track the location of their packages better. This leads to significant savings and avoids loss of packages.

The Barcode Technology Today

Barcodes are now everywhere. From logistics tracking to Amazon sellers, almost all products need barcodes. Even hospitals, doctor’s prescriptions, WiFi networks, airline check-in, and manufacturing require barcodes for easier tracking and management. Barcodes made business operations more manageable and made customer-experience made convenient. 

2D Barcodes: Today, there are 2D barcodes, like the QR (Quick Response) barcodes. Furthermore, a QR code is capable of encoding 800 characters onwards compared to linear barcodes with a limited encoding capacity. To this day, many industries use the cutting-edge barcode technology of QR codes to encode website addresses, link to an internet page, marketing purposes, and even send payment.

Do You Need Barcodes?

If you are a business owner that plans to sell products on online platforms like eBay or Amazon, where do you buy barcodes? Unique Product Codes are here to help you. We sell UPC or EAN barcode bundles at an affordable price. All you need to do is reach out to us, tell us what you need, and we’ll take the burden off your hands about this complicated process. Contact us now

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