History of the Barcode
The barcode was invented, almost by accident, by Norman Joseph Woodland in 1948.
Bernard Silver, a fellow Drexel Institute graduate student with Woodland, overheard a conversation between a supermarket executive and an engineer on whether product information could be captured automatically at a checkout. Silver was interested and mentioned the problem to Woodland.
While on a beach in Florida, Woodland drew dots and dashes in the sand, similar to the shapes of Morse code. After pulling the dots and dashes downwards with his fingers, he came up with a concept of the first ever linear barcode.
In October 1949, they applied for a patent which was received in October 1952 covering both linear and bulls-eye designs.
Long story short: Woodland got employed by IBM, sold the patent to Philco, who then sold it to RCA before the patent expired in 1969.
In 1971 IBM started work on developing what is now UPC (Universal Product Code), beating their competition, RCA.
The first item scanned in public was a packet of chewing gum in an Ohio supermarket in 1974.
Woodland died from Alzheimer’s on the 9th of December 2012, at the age of 91.