Monday, December 1, 2008

Bernard Silver and Norman Woodland


In honor of the holiday shopping season, today we honor the inventors of the Barcode.

Bernard Silver and Norman Woodland were both graduate students at Drexel Institute of Technology when they first started working on the Barcode. Silver had overheard the president of a local food store chain asking one of the deans at Drexel if they could find a way quick to capture product information. Silver was interested in the idea and asked his friend Woodland to help him in his work.

The pair first experimented with ink that would glow under ultraviolet light, however this method proved to be too expensive. Woodland than tried a method similar to Morse code, dot, dash where each was extended to form thick or thin lines. He then changed the idea into a bull's eye so that the Barcode would not need to be lined up in order to be scanned. Silver and Woodland patented this idea and then worked on developing a scanner for their product.

In 1962, Philco bought the rights to the barcode and RCA obtained the rights a few years later.

Woodland, while working at IBM, helped design the Universal Product Code in 1973, helping to standardize the use of digits and making it so the scanner could read the code easier.

The first product scanned using the Barcode was in 1974 in Troy, Ohio. A packet of chewing gum was successful scanned at a Marsh supermarket. Silver and Woodland's invention is used in stores everywhere; they have made the selling of products easier and faster.

Sources:
Wikipedia- Barcode
Inventors.about - History of Barcodes

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