Saturday, June 26, 2010

Happy 35th Anniversary to the Barcode

This week marked the 35th Anniversary of the UPC - or Universal Product Code. Originally developed to help supermarkets speed up the checkout process, the first live use of a UPC took place in a Marsh Supermarkets store in Troy, Ohio, on June 26, 1974, when a cashier scanned a package of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum. One of the world’s best-known symbols, the UPC comprises a row of 59 machine-readable black and white bars and 12 human-readable digits. Every UPC incorporates three elements -- the brand owner’s GS1 company prefix, the specific item’s reference number, and a check digit - which is calculated by the combination of the preceding numbers to ensure data accuracy.

I remember the first time I saw a check-out person at the grocery store use the scanner instead of manually entering the price. And hearing that "beep" for the first time. Now that beep seems to be everywhere.

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