Of all the inventions to affect the world of shopping, the barcode was probably the one that had the greatest impact. With its ability to speed up the checkout process, improve accuracy and streamline inventory management, barcodes have had a strong impact on not only retail but industry as a whole. You may be surprised to know, however, that barcodes haven’t been around that long. It wasn’t until 1974 that the first barcode scanner was used and the first product barcoded.
In 1948, a food chain store owner approached the Drexel Institute of Technology with the idea of creating a way of reading product information during checkout. A graduate student at the Institute, Bernard Silver, along with fellow grad student, Norman Woodland, teamed up to create a solution to streamlining the checkout process.
By 1949, they had successfully created the first barcode. On October 7, 1952, they were granted a patent for the “Classifying Apparatus and Method.”
Yet even with the technology in place, it was still some years for an industry standard to be developed. In 1970, Logicon Inc. developed the Universal Grocery Products Identification Code. Still, it wasn’t until 1972 that a store in Cincinnati began using a bull’s-eye code. It was around that time that a committee was formed to select a standard barcode to be used in the industry and the UPC symbol was chosen as the industry standard.