On This Day In History


I’ve not done one of these for a while, so here’s my contribution for today.

A bar code encoding the word "Wikipedia&q...
A bar code encoding the word “Wikipedia” in Code 128 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Did you know that today marks the 60th anniversary of the bar-code? Well, the registry of its patent anyway.

The humble bar-code was patented on October 7th 1952, but it wasn’t until 1974 that it was actually used on a product because, get this, the technology for READING them wasn’t invented until then. I think most quiz enthusiasts would already know this, but the first product it was ever used on was a bar of chewing gum in a store in Ohio.

You will find most if not all products for sale now have a bar-code on them and they are an essential part of computerised stock control  and marketing/sales analysis etc. Uniform in size and colour you will find a bar-code on tins of soup, newspapers, hair-care products and so on. You will also find them on the backs of books, on medicines, stationery and all sorts of other things, including correspondence from the tax office, the doctor’s surgery and even your child’s school.

In recent years, there has been the development of the bar-code’s little brother, the QR code. You will have seen them on adverts, posters and maybe inside newspapers and magazines etc. They are the little square symbols that you point your smart phone at to take you to a related website. Some people have said that the appearance of the QR code signals the end of the bar-code but to my mind they are totally different in purpose and will quite easily sit side by side in the modern world.

So, it was 22 years between invention and implementation for the humble bar-code. I wonder if there was anything else that had such a long incubation period? I seem to remember that after the first telephone was invented it was a good long while before the second one was made. I’d be interested to learn of anything else that took so long to get into circulation so if you have any nuggets of information for me please share.

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4 thoughts on “On This Day In History

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  1. I had no idea the bar code had been around so long, Pam. There isn’t a product I can put on the counter that doesn’t need one. If something doesn’t have a bar code I have to wait for someone to go and get a product that has one.
    Blessings ~ Maxi

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    1. I didn’t realise it either, which is why when I stumbled across the date yesterday I had to share it. I like to throw these little nuggets of nonsense now and again!
      Glad you enjoyed my post 🙂

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    1. I’d forgotten about hospital wristband bar-codes! I had one on my wristband the last time I went in hospital, and like you it was scanned when I went into theatre etc. I think they must have been trialling it though because they backed it all up with verbal checking as well…thank God!

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