A barcode (also bar code) is an optical,
The barcode was invented by Norman Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver and patented in US in 1952 (US Patent 2,612,994). The invention was based on Morse code that was extended to thin and thick bars. However, it took over twenty years before this invention became commercially successful. An early use of one type of barcode in an industrial context was sponsored by the
Barcodes became commercially successful when they were used to automate supermarket
Other systems have made inroads in the AIDC market, but the simplicity, universality and low cost of barcodes has limited the role of these other systems, particularly before technologies such as
Convinced that the system was workable with further development, Woodland left Drexel, moved into his father's apartment in Florida, and continued working on the system. His next inspiration came from
On 20 October 1949, Woodland and Silver filed a patent application for "Classifying Apparatus and Method", in which they described both the linear and
During his time as an undergraduate,
David Collins worked at the
The railway project had failed, but a
In 1967, with the railway system maturing, Collins went to management looking for funding for a project to develop a black-and-white version of the code for other industries. They declined, saying that the railway project was large enough, and they saw no need to branch out so quickly.
Collins then quit Sylvania and formed the Computer Identics Corporation. As its first innovations, Computer Identics moved from using incandescent light bulbs in its systems, replacing them with
Computer Identics Corporation installed one of its first two scanning systems in the spring of 1969 at a
In 1966, the
National Association of Food Chains (NAFC) held a meeting on the idea of automated checkout systems.
In the mid-1970s, the NAFC established the Ad-Hoc Committee for U.S. Supermarkets on a Uniform Grocery-Product Code to set guidelines for barcode development. In addition, it created a symbol-selection subcommittee to help standardize the approach. In cooperation with consulting firm, McKinsey & Co., they developed a standardized 11-digit code for identifying products. The committee then sent out a contract tender to develop a
In the spring of 1971, RCA demonstrated their bullseye code at another industry meeting. IBM executives at the meeting noticed the crowds at the RCA booth and immediately developed their own system. IBM marketing specialist Alec Jablonover remembered that the company still employed Woodland, and he[
In July 1972, RCA began an 18-month test in a Kroger store in Cincinnati. Barcodes were printed on small pieces of adhesive paper, and attached by hand by store employees when they were adding price tags. The code proved to have a serious problem; the printers would sometimes smear ink, rendering the code unreadable in most orientations. However, a linear code, like the one being developed by Woodland at IBM, was printed in the direction of the stripes, so extra ink would simply make the code "taller" while remaining readable. So on 3 April 1973, the IBM UPC was selected as the NAFC standard. IBM had designed five versions of UPC symbology for future industry requirements: UPC A, B, C, D, and E.
NCR installed a testbed system at
In 1971, an IBM team was assembled for an intensive planning session, thrashing out, 12 to 18 hours a day, how the technology would be deployed and operate cohesively across the system, and scheduling a roll-out plan. By 1973, the team were meeting with grocery manufacturers to introduce the symbol that would need to be printed on the packaging or labels of all of their products. There were no cost savings for a grocery to use it, unless at least 70% of the grocery's products had the barcode printed on the product by the manufacturer. IBM projected that 75% would be needed in 1975. Yet, although this was achieved, there were still scanning machines in fewer than 200 grocery stores by 1977.
Economic studies conducted for the grocery industry committee projected over $40 million in savings to the industry from scanning by the mid-1970s. Those numbers were not achieved in that time-frame and some predicted the demise of barcode scanning. The usefulness of the barcode required the adoption of expensive scanners by a critical mass of retailers while manufacturers simultaneously adopted barcode labels. Neither wanted to move first and results were not promising for the first couple of years, with Business Week proclaiming "The Supermarket Scanner That Failed" in a 1976 article.
On the other hand, experience with barcode scanning in those stores revealed additional benefits. The detailed sales information acquired by the new systems allowed greater responsiveness to customer habits, needs and preferences. This was reflected in the fact that about 5 weeks after installing barcode scanners, sales in grocery stores typically started climbing and eventually leveled off at a 10–12% increase in sales that never dropped off. There was also a 1–2% decrease in operating cost for those stores, and this enabled them to lower prices and thereby to increase market share. It was shown in the field that the
The global public launch of the barcode[