George Laurer, co-inventor of the barcode, dies at 94

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Media captionAaron Heslehurst explains how the barcode turned one million greenback thought


George Laurer, the US engineer who helped develop the barcode, has died on the age of 94.

Barcodes, that are made up of black stripes of various thickness and a 12-digit quantity, assist establish merchandise and remodeled the world of retail.


They’re now discovered on merchandise all around the world.

The concept was pioneered by a fellow IBM worker, but it surely was not till Laurer developed a scanner that might learn codes digitally that it took off.

Laurer died final Thursday at his dwelling in Wendell, North Carolina, and his funeral was held on Monday.

It was whereas working as engineer with IBM that George Laurer absolutely developed the Common Product Code (UPC), or barcode.

He developed a scanner that might learn codes digitally. He additionally used stripes reasonably than circles that weren’t sensible to print.

The UPC went on to revolutionise “just about each trade on this planet”, IBM mentioned in a tribute on its web site.

Within the early 1970s, grocery outlets confronted mounting prices and the labour-intensive have to put worth tags on every part.

The UPC system used lasers and computer systems to rapidly course of objects by way of scanning. This meant fewer pricing errors and simpler accounting.

The primary product scanned, in Ohio in June 1974, was a packet of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit chewing gum. It’s now on show on the Smithsonian Nationwide Museum of American Historical past in Washington.

Fellow IBM worker, Norman Woodland, who died in 2012, is taken into account the pioneer of the barcode thought, which he initially primarily based on Morse code.

Though he patented the idea within the 1950s, he was unable to develop it. It will take a couple of extra years for Laurer to carry the thought to fruition with the assistance of low-cost laser and computing know-how.

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