26 Jun: Scanning The First Barcode

At a Marsh supermarket in Troy, Ohio, a packet of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum became the first ever product to have its barcode scanned – at 8:01 a.m. on June 26th, 1974.

Inspired by the morse code training of his Boy Scout days, Norman Joseph Woodland first sketched out a barcode on a Florida beach in 1948, drawing dots and dashes in the sand. Together with fellow Drexel Institute graduate student Bernard Silver, he received a U.S. Patent in 1952 – but it would be another 20 years before IBM produced the technology that could be rolled out to grocery stores.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly explain how the invention accelerated the growth of the largest retailers; consider Woodland’s original ‘bullseye’ barcode design; and reveal why conspiracy theorists think barcodes are the DEVIL’s work…


Further Reading:

• ‘How the barcode changed retailing and manufacturing’ (BBC News, 2017): https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-38498700

• ‘N Joseph Woodland obituary’ (The Guardian, 2012): https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2012/dec/16/n-joseph-woodland

• ‘How Do Barcodes Work?’ (sciBRIGHT, 2018):

#Science #Business #70s #US