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History of Barcode

A2B Tracking Solutions is proud to present this bar code timeline. You will note a continuity that dates from the earliest days of railcar identification in 1959 to the present day. That continuity is personified by A2B Board Chairman, David Collins, who is often referred to as the “father of the barcode industry.” His presence in the industry over the last past fifty years has resulted in a string of barcode “firsts” that have shaped global commerce.

Many other pioneering individuals and companies have made ground-breaking contributions across the years. Only a few are mentioned here. The AIDC 100 organization honors these individuals, and their accomplishments are ably documented at Stony Brook University in New York.

Barcode has evolved over time, but one theme remains constant – the economy of efficiency. As the newest and largest player in the barcode revolution, the US Department of Defense, along with NATO, will carry this story deep into the 21st century.

1952
Bernard Silver and Norman Woodland are granted a patent for “Classifying Apparatus and Method,” in which they described a “bulls-eye” printing pattern. Philco soon purchased the patent and subsequently sold it to RCA.

 1959
David Collins manages the development of the KarTrak Automatic Car Identification system at Sylvania/GTE. This is the first commercial use of a linear barcode.  KarTrak reads red, white, blue and black bars, mounted on rail cars, to track their location.

1962
The first KarTrak barcode scanner is installed and tested by Sylvannia/GTE on the Boston & Maine Railroad.  Many commercial sales resulted from this application.

1967
Association of American Railroads adopts barcode standard across its entire fleet of railcars, piggyback vans and sea containers based on the KarTrak specifications.

 1968
Collins leaves Sylvannia/GTE to start Computer Identics Corp, the first company whose product line is based entirely on barcode. Work begins immediately on development of the first black and white barcodes and helium-neon laser scanners, for barcode application into other industries.

1970
First real-time, scanner-driven distributed process and reporting system developed by Computer Identics using Digital PDP8 computers.

 1971
Jim Bianco of Control Module develops the PCP portable barcode scanner, the first portable to use a microprocessor (Intel) and a digital cassette recorder.

1971
Norand develops the first portable wand scanning unit, enabling placing of orders directly off the grocery shelf.

 1971
AIM trade association (Automatic Identification Manufacturers) is formed by four charter members:  Computer Identics, Identicon, 3M and MEKontrol.

1971
Computer Identics installs its first two systems, one at a Pontiac, MI General Motors plant and one at General Trading Company in Carlstadt, NJ. The GM system was used to identify car axels on assembly lines.

 1972
Interleaved 2 of 5 code is developed by Dr. David Allais of Intermec for Computer Identics.

1973
A barcode based on IBM’s test submission becomes the Uniform Grocery Product Code (UPC) and is adopted by the National Association of Food Chains.

 1974
A pack of Wrigley’s Spearmint chewing gum is the very first UPC scanned. This occurs at Marsh’s Supermarket in Troy, OH at 8:01 AM on June 26th. An NCR test-bed scanning system was used.

1974
Code 39, the first alphanumeric barcode symbology is developed by Dr. David Allais and Ray Stevens of Intermec.

 1977
Scanners appear in fewer than 200 grocery stores, but statistics are proving that the return on investment for a grocery store barcode scanner is 41%.

1977
New York Marathon adopts barcode scoring provided by Computer Identics and Printronix

1980
First thermal transfer printer introduced by Sato.

 1980
Barcode is being adopted by 8000 additional grocery stores each year.

 1981
Department of Defense launches LOGMARS program using Code 39.

 1982
Computer Identics introduces Code 128, the most frequently  printed barcode in the world today.

 1982
Symbol Technologies LS7000, the first handheld scanner, is launched.

 1982
First CCD scanner introduced by Norand

1982
First all AIT trade show, Scan Tech, is held in Dallas.

1982
Data Specialties Inc. introduces The Zebra, its first barcode printer, at Scan Tech. In 1986 the company changed its name to Zebra Technologies Corp.

1983
AIAG (Automotive Industry Action Group) chooses Code 39 as standard.

 1984
HIBC (Health Industry Barcode) Alliance sets standards and settles on Code 39.

1984
Los Angeles Olympics chooses Computer Identics to track and control access and security with barcode.

1984
Computer Identics develops Mac-Barcode® Software, the first WYSIWYG barcode label composition software, for the newly introduced Apple MacIntosh.

1984
First Scan Tech Europe is held.

1987
Code 49 is developed by David Allais at Intermec Corporation

1987
David Collins leaves Computer Identics to start Data Capture Institute (DCI), the first company devoted entirely to barcode education and advanced barcode and IT integration. Later DCI purchases Mac-Barcode® software and forms subsidiary, The Mac-Barcode® Company.

1989
UCC-EAN Serial Shipping Container Code published.

1990
Popular 2D code, PDF417, is introduced by Symbol Technologies.

1990
ANSI X3.182 standard on barcode print quality is issued.

1991
Data Capture Institute launches Data Capture Case Studies & Technology newsletter, which is later published within Automatic I.D. News magazine.

1994
A2B Tracking Solutions is founded by Peter Collins. Focus is on labeling software and mobile computing. UPS contracts with A2B to complete development of UPS Trackpad® software for tracking of internal deliveries on PDAs. A2B continued a relationship of sales, support and development of UPS Trackpad for ten years.

1994
Checkerboard symbology Data Matrix is invented by International Data Matrix, Inc. (ID Matrix) and eventually covered several ISO/IEC standards.

1994
The Mac-Barcode® Company develops Mac-Barcode® Pro-Label™ and Mac-Barcode Walkabout™, the first software for mobile computing using the Apple Newton Platform. Application was later developed on the Windows CE platform.

1995
MCI/Worldcom implements Scanman, the first serialized item tracking application for assets, under a design contract with Data Capture Institute.

1996
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) awards prime contract to Data Capture Institute for tracking and control of operational assets in a program known as BCATS (barcode asset tracking system). This program, which continued until the events of 9/11 deflected funding, became the prototype for the DoD’s IUID mandate.

2000
ATA (Airline Transport Association) releases Spec 2000, a set of e-business specifications, products and services.

2002
DoD convenes Integrated Product Team (IPT) to expand on MIL STD 130 to serialized item tracking within the military

2003
DoD issues memorandum “Policy for Item Unique Identification (UID) of Tangible Items” that makes mandatory the marking and tracking of over 100 million items with Data Matrix code.

2004
A2B Tracking Solutions releases UID Comply!® life cycle management software, the first such product to support the UID initiative.

2004
AIM forms UID Supplier Alliance Committee in support of UID vendor community.

2005
Airlines use IATA standard 2D barcode on boarding passes.

2007
Peter Collins awarded ID Global Leadership Award in Milan, Italy for his contributions to the automatic identification industry in support of UID.

2008
2D barcodes sent to mobile phones to enable electronic boarding passes.

 2010
NATO Guidance on UID of Items is published to coordinate with the UID policy of DoD.