[Video] Barcode Labeling History: Ahead of its Time

by Maureen Perroni, on July 15, 2016

The idea for the first barcode was patented in 1952, but it wasn't used in a retail environment for more than two decades.

Why? For starters, the technology that Joe Woodland and Bob Silver envisioned wasn't feasible in the early '50s. Computers at the time were not powerful enough to record data from these codes. The laser hadn't been invented yet, either. For their prototype's light source, the inventors relied on a massive, 500-watt lightbulb that would damage the eyes of anyone who looked too closely.

So they eventually sold their patent, first to Philco, then to RCA. It wasn't until the early 1970s that industries began to see a use for this curious new technology - first on railroads, and then in stores. Finally, on July 26, 1974, a pack of chewing gum from a store on Troy, Ohio, became the first product sold with the help of a barcode scanner.

Thanks for watching, and check back next week to see how the first retail barcodes became the ubiquitous tools that we rely on today.

For more information on barcodes and on labeling check out our Special Report co-sponsored by VDC Research.

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Topics:Labeling

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