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May 22, 2020
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Barcodes and Barcode Scanners - Part of The Future and Beyond

Author: Administrator
When you stop to think of it, barcode technology is one of the things that has completely revolutionized the world of commerce. Barcodes can be found simply everywhere, and on almost every single thing we buy.

We sometimes get used to the everyday applications of this technology as we grab a few things at the supermarket. We are vaguely aware that each box of crackers, or each plump grapefruit is being scanned, magically added to our bill, and subtracted form the store's inventory.

Many of us remember the small neighborhood grocery where we could buy just about anything. We'd run in for a loaf of bread, a bottle of milk, and perhaps some licorice pipes.

Everything would be itemized on a bill pad, and added up the old fashioned way. Or the clerk would enter the price by hitting the manual keys of a cash register. We'd hand over our money and the cash drawer would fly open. Then our change would be counted back. When is the last time something actually counted back your change? These days it's merely dumped into our waiting hand.

It's no wonder it was the grocery industry that first began pioneering the use of barcodes. With so many items to keep track of, it was a natural beginning. There had to be a better way than shutting down for stock taking, and eyeing the shelves to see what needed to be ordered.

It wasn't so long ago that the first real test of a barcode system took place. It was in Cincinnati at a Kroger store, where employees placed codes printed on sticky paper on items for sale. It was the summer of 1972, and the experimental codes were in the shape of a bullseye.

Due to printing problems and smeared ink, the codes were often distorted and not readable. This problem was solved by developing a striped linear code that was printed in the direction that the paper was fed through the printing press. That way, if there was any stretch, the code would just appear a bit taller, but would still remain readable.

Then in Troy, Ohio, on June 26 1974, history was made. A gentleman by the name of Clyde Dawson approached the checkout counter at Marsh supermarket with a package of Wrigley's Juicy Fruit gum. Sharon Buchanan made the first official scan of an item actually being purchased at 8:01 that morning. Visitors to the Smithsonian Institution can now see that pack of ten sticks of gum, along with the receipt.

Today, as summer approaches and we tend to our backyard spaces, I sometimes marvel at the fact that every pot of petunias, every bag of soil, and every clay pot, has a barcode on it. However, there's no barcode at the gas pump, or at the drive through coffee shop on the way home. Not yet anyway.

It seems that barcode technology has found a brand new use, one that will integrate our everyday world with the internet. This is how it works. A barcode is photographed with a camera phone, and instantly a mobile web site is accessed. The barcode could be on a print ad in a newspaper or magazine, an object, or a poster advertising an upcoming concert. Imagine the possibilities.

And here's a bit of whimsy that transports us right into the future. I read on the internet that in the latest StarTrek movie, the joysticks on the bridge of the Enterprise are really barcode scanners. Yes indeed, the same marvellous barcode scanners that entrepreneurs use everyday in their enterprises.

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