you know how barcodes are magic? well, it turns out it’s actually science magic 😎
#tdil when barcodes were created, who they were created by and just how they came about 🤔
the ‘original’ barcode is considered to have been created in 1932 by a small group of students at the harvard university graduate school of business administration.
headed up by wallace flint, the ambitious project saw the group trying to create a system that allowed customers to choose their desired product from a catalog, before being given their chosen product automatically (ish).
the process was that the customer would pick their desired merchandise by removing the corresponding punched card from a catalog.
this punched card would then be handed to a checker who would put the card into a reader, this subsequently causing the merchandise to be grabbed automatically from the store room and delivered to the checkout counter 👍🏻.
the modern barcode actually began in 1948 after a graduate from the institute of technology in philadelphia named bernard silver, overheard the president of a local food chain asking a dean to undertake some research for what was basically a barcode.
bernard later told his mate norman joseph woodland about what he’d heard 😏. woodland was super excited when he heard of the project to create a system that would automatically read product information and got to work right away.
woodland’s first idea was to create a device that would use patterns of ink that flowed under uv light – unfortunately, printing the patterns was expensive and the ink slightly unstable 😐.
nonetheless, woodland and silver rolled with the idea and filed for a patent named “classifying apparatus and method” on october 20th, 1949 👍🏻.
their creation was almost exactly what we have today – a 1d pattern made of lines that the device could use to classify things. the first line was a ‘datum’ line and the rest of the lines were positioned relative to the first line. the information was coded by the absence or presence of the next lines. just like the 1d bar codes of today!
despite the patent being approved in 1952 and woodland receiving a ‘national medal of technology’ in 1992 (sadly, silver died in 1962 and never got to see the barcode in real life action 😢) neither of the gents actually made much money from their invention despite it later becoming a multiple billion pound deal 😭.
sleep well! 😴 #tdil
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