The bar code, 13 digits that order the modern world

Barcodes (from bar, bar) come in a variety of forms that have been developed specifically for individual industries. Those that generate the greatest general benefit have prevailed. We are talking here about the bar code, also called strip code or bar code. This is a binary code that belongs to the group of 1D barcodes.

These consist of small, black, parallel bars on a white background, of varying thickness and spacing.Today, 98 percent of groceries and 80 percent of other items are marked with such a code, saving retailers enormous administrative and logistical costs.The slow but steady triumph of the bar codeThere was some time before this groundbreaking invention caught on. As early as 1948, the bar code was invented by two American engineering students, Bernard Silver and Joseph Woodland. They were reacting to the loudly expressed wish of a supermarket manager to be able to automatically record the departure of goods at the checkout. They then developed the bar code, which can be read by a visual reader at a short distance.

Barcodes and scanners still work together according to this proven principle today. But it wasn't until 1973 that manufacturers and retailers in the U.S. agreed on the UPC code (Universal Product Code), a standard designed by IBM engineer George Laurer. In 1974, the first product was scanned in an American supermarket.

In Europe, it was not until 1976 that a uniform system was agreed upon, the later EAN code (European Article Numbering). In 1975, the first product, a Wichartz spice mixture, was scanned in a supermarket in Germany. Gradually, the system became established in all supermarkets, until in 2003 Aldinord, as one of the last large retailers, switched to scanning.How the barcode worksThe printed width of the bars, with the gaps in between, is read in with a barcode scanner, barcode reader via reflection. The scanned string of characters, which can be alphanumeric or numeric, is forwarded to an IT system that can interpret and provide the encoded data.

To ensure correct data transmission, a self-checking function is generally built into the barcode.BarcodesDepending on the industry, different barcodes are used, which are subject to a German and European standard.For product identification of packaging, retail articles, medicine and the electrical sector, the EAN/UPC code with up to 13 characters and high information density is used. Due to the low print tolerance, a check digit is mandatory. In addition to these 1D barcodes, there are also 2D, 3D and 4D codes.What and where are barcodes used? There are many areas of application for them, and it is no longer possible to imagine the modern flow of information without them. They allow monitoring, control, tracking, simplification, optimization and automation of business processes.You know the barcodes from the supermarket, which allows a quick checkout and timely reordering by recording the outgoing goods.

In industry, process information is collected and recorded via barcodes and in the warehouse area, assemblies, components and finished products are identified with the scanner.Why do you need a barcode?By means of barcodes, products can be scanned and inserted into various cash register systems and/or merchandise management systems.How do you create a barcode? For this you need a barcode software. You can create a barcode for example for free and in very good quality at https://www.shopify.de/tools/strichcode-generator.