History of the Barcode

First patented in 1952, barcodes are now an integral part of retail solutions. At Labeling Solutions, we offer a full suite of barcode printers, scanners and other PIC (Physical Inventory Counting), inventory management options to suit a range of industries. Did you know that the barcode has been a part of retail inventory management solutions since 1952? Here’s a peek into the history of an important but often overlooked aspect of your business.

How Barcodes Started
In October of 1952, Joe Woodland and Bernard Silver patented their bulls-eye barcode, basically a random series of circles arranged concentrically. Silver and Woodland had been researching ways to automate product pricing reading for a business owner who came to Drexel University in search of a solution. Both Woodland and Silver were graduate students eager to take on the task.

After a few innovative but impractical or too expensive ideas starting in 1948, such as using UV sensitive ink, the determined inventors finally filed for their patent of “article classification through the medium of identifying patterns.”

It wasn’t until the mid 1960s that industry standards began being set and barcodes were used commercially. The Universal Grocery Products Identification Code was written in 1970 and the first mass produced barcode scanning equipment went into production by a company called Monarch Marking.

Modern Barcode Technology
In 1973, the technology was taken a step further by George Laurer, who invented the UPC (Uniform Product Code), a natural progression of the UGPIC. In Troy, Ohio, the first grocery store implemented a UPC scanner. The story goes that on that June day in 1974, the first item scanned by barcode was a pack of Wrigley’s Gum!

The present and future of barcodes and other inventory management tools include innovations like data matrix codes and QR (quick response) codes that both store much more information in their 2D formats. Data matrix codes are considered more secure, but QR codes are able to actually store more data, 4,296 alphanumeric characters.

Labeling Solutions Inventory and Asset Management
Barcode technolOgy continues to evolve today and Labeling Solutions is dedicated to bringing this new technology to their customers. From industrial grade thermal label printers that will result in clear and precise barcode labels scannable from 40 feet away, to our powerful, handheld PIC unit that utilizes 2D scanning technology to reconcile item types and quantity. Labeling Solutions will provide the tools and support your business needs to excel at inventory and asset management. Contact the barcode printer professionals at Labeling Solutions for all of your data collection equipment needs.