A bar code is a machine-readable strip containing data in form of widths and spacing of Printed Parallel Lines for Automatic Identification of various items. The concept of barcode system was influenced from Punch Card System. Earlier, Punch Card System was used in Grocery stores to speed up the Checkout process. Subsequently, this idea gained so much of influence and momentum that all shopkeepers adopted it.
On October 20, 1949, Woodland and Silver filed a patent application named "Classifying Apparatus and Method." Their barcode consisted of "bull eye" symbol (made up of concentric circles). After four years, on October 7, 1952, the Woodland and Silver patent application was issued as US Patent 2,612,994.
Unfortunately, Silver died at the age of thirty-eight in 1962, before commercial use of bar code started. But Silver and Woodland`s effort did not go in vain as later in 1992, President Bush awarded Woodland with 1992 National Medal of Technology. The saddest part of the story was that neither men made much money on the idea that started a billion-dollar business.
Bar code was not commercialized until 1966. In fact, use of bar code system by industries started only in the late 1950`s by the Association of American Railroad. Later on, in 1967, the Association adopted an optical bar code. Next without taking much time, Car labeling and scanner installation began on October 10, 1967. But the most unexpected major set back for the company was that it took seven years to label 95% of the fleet and thereafter for many reasons, the system was abandoned in the late 1970`s.
But the bar code system did not see dead-end then, it surfaced back again on September 1, 1981. This time United States Department of Defense adopted the bar code system. They used code 39 for marking all products, which were sold to the United States military. This system was called LOGMARS.
Thenceforward, bar code system became universally accepted funda and was used for various purposes. Today different types of barcode are available, which are as follows:
- UPC symbols are fixed length, used in the retail and food industry, and not used anywhere else for the most part. They were developed to meet the needs of grocery retailing as it fits 12 digits into a reasonably compact space. The various types of UPC are UPC 80% version A, UPC 100% version A, UPC 80% coupon code, UPC coupon code No expiration date, UPC coupon code with expiration date, bookland/EAN 13, bookland/EAN w/PRICE and shipping container code.
The U.P.C coupon code consists of five basic sections namely Number System Character (NSC), Manufacturers Number, Family Code, Value Code, and Check Digit.
- This barcode was specially made for industries, as some industries needed to encode the alphabet as well as numbers into a barcode. It is typically the non-food standard barcode, used for ID, inventory, and tracking purposes in various industries such as manufacturing. However, the problem with Code 39 is that it is relatively long and may not be suitable if label length is a consideration.
- This barcode was designed to encompass wide selection of characters, which code 39 failed to provide. The best feature of code 128 is that it is very compact and results in a dense symbol. This barcode type is used in the shipping industry where label size is a big.
Interleaved 2 of 5
- This is another type of barcode used in shipping industry and warehousing industry
- This type of barcode is used by postal service. The various types of barcodes used by postal service are ZIP `4/POSTNET and FIM four state.
- PDF417 is 2D (two-dimensional) barcode in a portable data file (PDF) form. The salient features of this barcode are high-density and non-linearity. Due to these features, more data can be stored in it compared to other types of barcodes.
Future of barcode
Barcode has evolved as a great player in everybody`s daily life and industrial application. Furthermore, it has the potential to change the working of industrial world, making working process quicker and simpler. But, the challenge doesn`t end here. In the upcoming days, the biggest challenge for the engineers will be to manufacture a barcode, which provides foolproof solution to the industry, as the tampering of barcode system is possible.