Invention of the Barcode
Posted on March 17, 2010 by Jamie Slaughter, with 32767 views
Perhaps one of the most under rated inventions belongs to the barcode. Barcodes aren't given much thought by the majority of consumers, but these codes were fairly recently implemented, in a working fashion, in 1970.
A small food store owner decided one day that keeping records of the inventory of his stock and their associated prices was an extremely laborious process and so, in 1948, he took it upon himself to contact The Drexel Institute of Technology in a bid to work towards a feasible solution. Bernard Silver rose to the challenge and set out to investigate this problem, and began working on a solution involving an automatic way of keeping track of items which had been sold. Bernard Silver and a group of students from the institute realised their answer in the form of ultraviolet rays, ink and a scanner.
The system did work initially, but possessed two major negatives. The system was incredibly costly making implementation on a large scale much more economically draining and the system was also notorious as being unstable. If the invention was to become commonplace in grocery stores, these two problems had to be ironed out to provide a more viable solution.
The patent for the bar code system was filed by Silver and one of his students, Woodland. The patent was not granted immediately; in fact it took three years for the patent agency to grant their invention patent for the bar code, occurring on 7th October, 1952. The invention of the barcode is patent number 2,612,994, Classifying Apparatus and Method, the official title of the patent.
Despite this patent being issued, the system was still not welcomed by the majority of store owners. It wasn't until 1966, that the system began creeping its way into more and more grocery stores. This system was soon criticised, as there was no central mechanism for controlling uniformly coded items. In 1970, Logicorn developed Universal Grocery Products Identification code (UGPIC), soon shortened to Universal Identification Number (UPC). It was Marsh's superstore in Troy, which was the very first store to install this sophisticated barcode reading system and its popularity has soared ever since, obviously now commonplace in all types of stores worldwide.
The first product to have ever been added to the barcode system was a pack of Wrigley's chewing gum.
The invention of the bar code may not appear as complex, ground breaking, or as revolutionary as many other inventions, but few have been as understated, yet so effectively time-saving, efficient and manageable.