The Barcode Turns 60 Years Old

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I can’t remember a world in which we did not have barcodes and I’ve been around for awhile! And yet, I haven’t been around quite as long as the old familiar barcode which is turning 60 this month. The original patent for what we know today as the modern barcode was granted on October 7, 1952 to Norman Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver, its inventors.

Did you know that the very first use of barcodes was to label railroad cars, but they were not commercially successful until they were used to automate supermarket checkout systems, a task for which they have become almost universal? How about the fact that the first bar code was printed on a pack of Wrigley’s chewing gum? Or that the very first bar code had only four lines?

The following infographic, published by Wasp Barcode, offers more history and fun facts like the ones above, as well as how the bar code came to be, its practical uses, and how industries have implemented the technology today.

60th anniversary of the barcode

David Wallace
David Wallace, co-founder and CEO of SearchRank, is a recognized expert in the industry of search and social media marketing. Since 1997, David has been... Read Full Bio
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  • Barry Welford

    I think the barcode and all its modern derivatives will become ever more important in the mobile world since devices all come with cameras now. Voice too will become a more and more important input element but visual images can be picked up with much less noise. This area deserves much more attention than it seems to get.

  • Daniël W. Crompton

    How was the barcode read before the 1970s?

  • Craig Blanchard

    What crap a bar code without a laser reader is useless. No barcode could be used before lasers!

  • Nathan

    Good and detailed info on the barcode origin and it’s applications is good.