Labelling machines have definitely reached the computer age. In the old days labelling machines just had to print a label for a package or container that identified the product, the brand and perhaps a “use by” date. These days labelling machines also print bar codes on boxes, cans, jars, tags, and other methods of identification that utilize labels, and by imprinting the bar codes are able to place a great deal of information about a product onto the product itself, something that was not possible before the bar code was invented, and before labelling machines were altered in order to imprint these codes.
Most people see the bar codes on the items they buy, imprinted by labelling machines and never give them much thought, which is too bad because the technology behind them is quite impressive. The bar code is a machine readable presentation of information that stores data in the spaces between printed lines. Or, they can come in dot patterns, in concentric circles, or even be hidden in images. They are scanned by an optical scanner, also called a bar code reader, than transmits the information to a computer. Theses images, lines, numbers and so on can be linear or in two dimensions.
And they are placed on the items you buy everyday by labelling machines set up to imprint the bar codes on the product. The information in the bar codes allows merchants to maintain more accurate records of inventory, and in turn they are able to keep items in stock more readily and make more profits for their shareholders while in turn lowering prices for consumers, as well as having better selection of materials. Without labelling machines these innovations could not have been made, and our shopping experiences would be very different indeed.