Barcode labels have been around us for almost 50 years and their evolution has been amazing. Everything starts in the sixties, where barcode labels where used for the first time to catalogue trains for transit control. Unfortunately, this project was a failure due to lack of maintenance of the labels. Despite this fact, Americans continued their support on the technology and they installed the first retail system based in barcodes. Kroger supermarkets were the successful pioneers in this field.
Barcode labels found their way into the army in the seventies, primarily used to control military archives. Further expansion was registered in diverse and non-related industries like the automotive business and also the blood banks. This simply proved that this technology was not attached to any particular industry. The first standards appeared also in this decade, being the most important the Universal Product Code (UPC) and the European Article Number (EAN). With these standards in the market, technology was spread all around the world, mainly in the retail sector. Barcode labels provided supermarket processes with new efficiencies, thus making this industry more dynamic.
The eighties marked the incursion of barcode labels in the postal services, being the United States Postal Service the first one to adopt the technology. The USPS developed a proprietary standard specifically designed to meet its needs. This standard was so successful that it is used even today in America.
As we can see, evolution of this technology has been explosive, to say the least. Some industries use it as a critical and irreplaceable part of their business processes. Even in the 21st century, as more research and development is done by retail and logistic companies, new and more efficient standards are developed, as well as new wireless technologies that promise to change the way we live in the near future.