Few people know the story of how the supermarket barcode actually came to be. Way back in 1948 the barcode had it’s roots when a visionary supermarket executive asked one of the deans at the Drexel Institute Of Technology to please find some method by which grocery store prices could automatically be added without the clerk having to add all numbers by hand. The Dean Of Students wan’t all that interested in that request, but didn’t deter Bernard Silver from doing some early research into some sort of autoprice scan technology. But, soon Silver asked fellow student, Norman Joseph Woodland what he thought of this autoscan problem. Woodland thought that perhaps a solution to this problem may be as simple as some sort of Morse Code issue, such as he had learned from his Boy Scout training. Perhaps rather than just prices, entire products could be identified through a Morse Code based system of symbols. But, at IBM where Woodland worked, the novel idea was a bit of a hard sell for the business machine pioneer firm, so Philco purchased the barcode development problem from IBM in 1952, but then quickly resold the idea to RCA. By 1969 when RCA had hoped to sell supermarkets on a system, IBM was again involved in the barcode technology issue and bu 1971 the standard for the supermarket industry was finally set and rest became history.
So you wonder where those funny barcodes came from? Well, thank the father of the barcode, Norman Joseph Woodland, for saving you time at the checkstand as well as many clerk errors where automation took over adding the prices and speeding you through a long line of customers.