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Example/Sample: 012345678905 or 6 03084 26004 1
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The bar code number in this example is 6 03084 26004 1 [with the 6 and 1]. 

 
Enter bar code number 603084260041 in the 'go' box.



Consumers find the bar code number of the product on the product packaging. If you have been told to 'enter the bar code number at keyword.com', find the bar code, enter the number below the bars of the bar code (being sure to enter the numbers at far left and far right), and you will land on a special web page that the manufacturer wants you to see.


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The HISTORY of the UPC Bar Code

You see bar codes everywhere, but did you ever wonder where the bar code came from and who invented the bar code?

The history of the UPC bar code and how the bar code symbol and system became a world standard.

Wallace Flint was the first person to suggest an automated checkout system in 1932. Flint's system was economically unfeasible, however, 40 years later, Flint, as vice-president of the National Association of Food Chains, supported the efforts which led to the Uniform Product Code (UPC).

Norman Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver are most often credited as having originally invented the barcode on October 20, 1949 by filing patent application serial number 122,416 (which became Patent Number 2,612,994). Though Woodland and Silver pioneered the concept of a symbol and a reader, it was not until 1974 that the first UPC bar code was actually used in a supermarket.

On June 26, 1974 at 8:01am, the first product with a bar code, a 10-pack of Wrigley's Juicy Fruit chewing gum, was scanned at a check-out counter at a Marsh supermarket in Troy, Ohio. This pack of gum was picked from the cart by a shopper (Clyde Dawson) who simply chose the gum first. Sharon Buchanan (now retired) was the cashier who made the first UPC scan. The register rang up this sale - 67 cents (according to wrigley.com see '1974') - marking the first time in history that a UPC was used at checkout. With that, a new, computerized era in supermarket shopping began.

The Marsh store in Troy was chosen due to its proximity to Dayton, Ohio-based NCR Corp. (then called National Cash Register Co.), which designed the checkout counter. The actual scanner used was from PSC Inc., and at the time cost $4,000 (the entire check-out counter cost $10,000). PSC scanners now cost about 1% of that.

Since that first pack of gum was scanned on that Wednesday morning in Ohio, the black and white UPC bar codes we see in use everywhere today have helped speed checkout and track the sales of billions of items at retail establishments everywhere.

The 10-pack of Wrigley's Juicy Fruit gum is on display at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History, not far from Alexander Bell's contribution, the telephone.

George Laurer is credited as being the inventor of the modern UPC bar code system.

It was 1970 when McKinsey & Co. (a consulting firm) in conjunction with UGPCC (which stood for the Uniform Grocery Product Code Council, a corporation formed by the grocery industries' leading trade associations* ) defined a numeric format for product identification. A request was made to many companies to make a proposal of a code, a symbol incorporating the code, and specifications for both. The request went to Singer, National Cash Register, Litton Industries, RCA, Pitney-Bowes, IBM and many others large and small.

Most of the other companies had optical codes and scanning equipment in the market place already. IBM did not. Therefore, in 1971 George Laurer was given the task by IBM management to design the best code and symbol suitable for the grocery industry.

In May of 1973, IBM's proposal was accepted. The only changes made by UGPCC was the type font used for the human readable and the ink contrast specification. 

Following the acceptance of the original UPC specification, George Laurer was asked to find a way to add another digit. The symbol already held twelve, the eleven required by UGPCC and a check digit George Laurer added to achieve the required reliability. The addition of the thirteenth digit could not cause the equipment to require extensive modification. Further, the original domestic version could not be modified. 

The extra digit would allow for "country identification" and make the UPC worldwide. Again George Laurer found a way to accommodate the requirement and the EAN (European Article Numbering system) symbol was born. Many countries are using the same symbol with their identifying country "flag" (the 13th digit), but chose to call the symbol by other names. An example is JAN (Japanese Article Numbering system), the Japanese version. The symbol has truly become worldwide. 

In the years since 1973, George Laurer has proposed, and the Uniform Product Code Council, Inc. (formerly UGPCC) has accepted, several other enhancements. Among these enhancements is a price check digit for domestic and another for European markets. There is also an expanded symbol, Version D, which has not yet seen wide use.


History of the modern bar code above provided by George Laurer himself. Thank you George! Please be sure to visit George Laurer's web Site. Semi-retired, George continues to consult on UPC bar codes on a freelance basis. George Laurer was inducted into the Innovation Hall of Fame (IHOF) in May 1991 in recognition of his significant inventions and for creating the standard form of the Universal Product Code. A 36-year veteran of the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) who retired in June of 1987, George Laurer is the holder of 25 patents. He is also the author of 20 published Technical Disclosure Bulletins. During his career, IBM recognized and rewarded him for many technical innovations. He received the prestigious “Raleigh, N.C. Inventor of the Year” award in 1976. In 1980 he was honored with IBM’s Corporate Technical Achievement award for his work on the Universal Product Code proposal that was issued in 1970 by McKinsey & Co. and Uniform Grocery Product Code Council, Inc. Before joining IBM, he received the B.S. in electrical engineering form the University of Maryland in 1951. He came to the University after having served in World War II and attending a technical school to learn radio and TV repair. Upon completion of his first year at the technical school, his instructor convinced him that he should not continue that course of study, but that he should go to college.

Over the years, the UGPCC became the UPCC which became the UCC (Uniform Code Council, Inc., the company that assigns the bar code number prefixes in the U.S.). For more detail, click here.

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