Logistics News

World hails barcode on important birthday

Scanning technology turns 40 to universal acclaim over efficiencies


A wave of nostalgia has swept the computing and retail worlds internationally with the 40th anniversary of the first retail barcode scan.

Its legacy and subsequent developments are credited with allowing immense efficiencies in sale and purchase of goods as well as transport and logistics.

While its roots go back 60 years, it is generally accepted that, after the technology was championed by supermarket executive Alan Haberman, a 10-pack of chewing gum in Ohio was the first product to be scanned for its 12-digit Universal Product Code.

Less well known is its first appearance in Australia, with its 40th in about five years’ time, something Honeywell regional manager Tony Repaci notes.

“Locally, the barcode announced its arrival on Australian and New Zealand shores in 1979 at Sims Supermarket in Victoria, which was the first barcode scanning store in the region,” Repaci says.

“This occurred in the same year APNA was formed, now known as GS1 Australia − a local arm of the global not-for-profit organisation that develops and maintains the most widely-used supply chain barcode standards in the world.

“By 1986, 90 per cent of grocery items in Australia and New Zealand had a 13-digit International Article Number (EAN) barcode and 500 grocery stores had scanning technology.

“From there the barcode was adopted in point of sale in successive Australian retail operations such as department stores, pharmacy and liquor.

“The barcode has become so entrenched in our shopping experiences that we now take it for granted that scanning devices will be used at POS for a fast and accurate transaction.”



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