Barcode Guide

History of Barcodes

The first Universal Product Code (UPC) was scanned in a grocery store in the early 1970s, but the history of machine-readable coded data begins much earlier. Punched cards can be thought of as the predecessor to barcodes, because they use binary information to record, store, and use data. The first instance of using punched cards in an industrial factory setting occurred in 1801 with Joseph Jacquard's development of a loom that used punched cards to automatically weave patterns into silk. Data collection and interpretation followed.

The following timeline summarizes the major advancements in automatic data identification and scanning over the last century or so.

Closed1890 to 1920s

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