Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Scan This: The Barcode Turns 60

This Sunday, October 7, marked the 60th anniversary of the issuing of patent #2,612,994 for the barcode by the U.S. Patent Office to Norman Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver. The two friends reportedly sought a way to improve the grocery store checkout process. Their design was inspired by Morse code, simply extending the dots and dashes into lines, and the technology of movie soundtracks. Woodland and Silver's innovation has had a lasting impact in commerce and, perhaps more surprisingly, libraries.

The Gallagher Law Library has a thorough guide on conducting patent research. If you're looking to find the text of a particular patent (say, #2,612,994) in a free and quick manner, you can always use Google's Patent Search or the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Patent Full-Text Databases.
Bonus trivia: A 10-pack of Wrigley's Juicy Fruit chewing gum was the first item with a barcode to be scanned. The transaction occurred at a Marsh supermarket in Troy, Ohio, on June 26, 1974. The pack is on display at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History.

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