The bar code turns 35

Summary:The invention that transformed the supply chain---the Universal Product Code bar code--turns 35 on June 26. The UPC bar code has 59 machine readable black and white bars that identify products and its manufacturer.

The invention that transformed the supply chain---the Universal Product Code bar code--turns 35 on June 26. 

The UPC bar code has 59 machine readable black and white bars that identify products and its manufacturer. Despite all the talk about RFID devices taking over the supply chain, the bar code is alive and well. 

The GS1 US, which develops and administers the Universal Product Code (UPC) for businesses in the U.S., dishes out a bevy of facts and figures. A quick look:

  • The first live use of the UPC was in a Marsh Supermarkets Store in Troy, Ohio June 26, 1974. The product: A pack of Wrigley's gum.
  • UPCs are scanned more than 10 billion times a day in 25 industries.
  • The average price per check out scanner in 1974 was about $10,000.
  • Industry executives in 1974 projected savings of $150 million if the grocery industry moved to a UPC-based automated checkout system. PriceWaterhouseCoopers concluded that the impact on the food industry was 20 times greater than original forecasts. The firm's findings were released on the barcode's 25th birthday.

Topics: CXO

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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