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Author Topic: The History of the UPC Bar Code  (Read 5715 times)
Aleksandrs Guba
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« on: March 24, 2008, 10:57:38 am »

You see bar codes everywhere, but did you ever wonder where the bar code came from and who invented the bar code?

The history of the UPC bar code and how the bar code symbol and system became a world standard.

Wallace Flint was the first person to suggest an automated checkout system in 1932. Flint's system was economically unfeasible, however, 40 years later, Flint, as vice-president of the National Association of Food Chains, supported the efforts which led to the Uniform Product Code (UPC).

Norman Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver are most often credited as having originally invented the barcode on October 20, 1949 by filing patent application serial number 122,416 (which became Patent Number 2,612,994). Though Woodland and Silver pioneered the concept of a symbol and a reader, it was not until 1974 that the first UPC bar code was actually used in a supermarket.

On June 26, 1974 at 8:01am, the first product with a bar code, a 10-pack of Wrigley's Juicy Fruit chewing gum, was scanned at a check-out counter at a Marsh supermarket in Troy, Ohio. This pack of gum was picked from the cart by a shopper (Clyde Dawson) who simply chose the gum first. Sharon Buchanan (now retired) was the cashier who made the first UPC scan. The register rang up this sale - 67 cents - marking the first time in history that a UPC was used at checkout. With that, a new, computerized era in supermarket shopping began.
The Marsh store in Troy was chosen due to its proximity to Dayton, Ohio-based NCR Corp. (then called National Cash Register Co.), which designed the checkout counter. The actual scanner used was from PSC Inc., and at the time cost $4,000 (the entire check-out counter cost $10,000). PSC scanners now cost about 1% of that.

Since that first pack of gum was scanned on that Wednesday morning in Ohio, the black and white UPC bar codes we see in use everywhere today have helped speed checkout and track the sales of billions of items at retail establishments everywhere.

The 10-pack of Wrigley's Juicy Fruit gum is on display at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History, not far from Alexander Bell's contribution, the telephone ...
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