Articles

HOW DO BARCODE LABELS WORK


The history of barcode labels is probably a more interesting than you would imagine. The idea behind barcode labels all started with a young university student and a dream. Joseph Woodland was sitting on a beach and wondering about ways to use barcode labels to capture product information automatically. Morse code was his first thought and he began sketching symbols into the sand. Those marks turned into lines and Woodland had his concept. Two years later that concept was made real by a patent for the "linear barcode".

At first the use of barcode labels wasn't as widespread as the young Woodland had hoped. Railroad companies used them but few other industries were on board with the concept of barcode labels. Almost twenty years later the idea caught on as grocery stores began implementing the technology to make checkout quicker. It wasn't long before every industry was using barcode labels on their products. Everything from toys to rental cars possesses the now famous barcode labels with the ingenious UPC symbols.

The very first barcode labels were made with special ink that could be picked up by ultraviolet light but these barcode labels proved to be too expensive for widespread use. One of the first computer companies reinvented the barcode labels and created the less expensive and more reliable barcode labels and readers that we see today.

There are a few disadvantages of the barcode labels that are used today. First they must be accurately scanned individually to keep track of inventory. The barcode labels then need to be scanned again at the register, which costs stores in time and manpower. Most importantly is that the current barcode labels are a read-only label that cannot transfer information back and forth.


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