You have often seen them on cereal boxes, books, and merely about every consumer product on store shelves. Those are the infamous UPC barcodes. But why could they be needed? Who's with them, and what kind of information will they glean from them?
The good news about Universal Product Code (UPC) barcodes is that they weren't employed for nefarious government purposes as was feared once they were first introduced commercially within the 1970s. That point may be coming in the future, but for now they are harmless to the average consumer. They are used primarily to trace inventory for retail, manufacturing along with other purposes.
History of the UPC Barcode
The history of the used PC barcode actually dates back to the early 1930s and also the first automated checkout system featuring technology using punch cards. Inventors Bernard Silver and Joseph Woodland patented the first barcode system in early 1950s based on their previous understanding of those earlier punch card systems.
Various organizations and business entities then continued to test out the UPC barcode through the 1960s, yet commercial success seemed elusive for the most part. However, in early 1970s, IBM introduced the current barcode for commercial use. And just what was the first product they coded? A pack of Wrigley's Juicy Fruit chewing gum.
How it operates
A typical UPC barcode includes a combination of black strips, white spaces and numerical digits. As many as 12 digits from the UPC number, with each number sequence being represented by a specific mixture of black strips and white spaces. Uniqueness is achieved by permitting only one way to display any numerical sequence.
By arranging the black strips and white spaces accordingly, the UPC barcode provides a graphical image that can be scanned using infrared light or other similar technologies. The initial number sequence of every individual code may be used to retrieve and store data linked to the item scanned.
DIY UPC Barcodes
Organizations such as the U.S. Postal Service and UPS use UPC barcodes to track packages. Retailers like Walmart and Kmart make use of the codes to trace inventory in warehouses and local shops. Manufacturers make use of the codes to control recycleables arriving and handle products going out. However, you may use them yourself to manage your personal small company or keep track of possessions in your house for insurance purposes.
There are a number of free software programs that allow individual consumers to create and print their very own barcodes. All that you should do is link these to a database or spreadsheet, then print a label and fix it to anything you want to trace. With a smart phone or PDA your UPC barcode symbols become an easy and efficient way to keep an eye on whatever you desire.