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History of Barcode

A2B Tracking Solutions is proud to present this barcode 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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

Computer Identics installs its first two systems, one at a Pontiac, Michigan General Motors plant and one at a General Trading Company in Carlstadt, NJ. The GM system was used to identify car axles on assembly lines. General Trading used barcode to track and assemble grocery orders.

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

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.

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

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

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%.

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

First thermal transfer printer introduced by Sato.

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

Department of Defense launches LOGMARS program using Code 39.

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

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

First CCD scanner introduced by Norand.

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

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

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

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

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

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

First Scan Tech Europe is held.

Code 49 is developed by David Allais at Intermec Corporation.

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.

UCC-EAN Serial Shipping Container Code published.

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

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

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

Airlines use IATA standard 2D barcode on boarding passes.

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

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

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