UPC Barcodes: What Are They All About?

UPC Barcodes: What Are They All About?

You’ve seen them on cereal boxes, books, and just about every consumer product on store shelves. They are the infamous UPC barcodes. But why are they needed? Who is using them, and what kind of information do they glean from them?

The good news about Universal Product Code (UPC) barcodes is that they haven’t been used for nefarious government purposes as was feared when they were first introduced commercially in the 1970s. That time may be coming in the future, but for now they are harmless to the average consumer. They are used primarily to track inventory for retail, manufacturing and other purposes.

History of the UPC Barcode

The history of the used PC barcode actually dates back to the early 1930s and the first automated checkout system featuring technology using punch cards. Inventors Bernard Silver and Joseph Woodland patented the first barcode system in the early 1950s based on their previous knowledge of those earlier punch card systems.

Various organizations and business entities then continued to experiment with the UPC barcode through the 1960s, yet commercial success seemed elusive for the most part. However, in the early 1970s, IBM introduced the modern barcode for commercial use. And what was the first product they coded? A pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit chewing gum.

How it Works

A standard UPC barcode consists of a combination of black strips, white spaces and numerical digits. A total of 12 digits make up the UPC number, with each number sequence being represented by a specific combination of black strips and white spaces. Uniqueness is achieved by allowing 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 unique number sequence of each individual code can be used to retrieve and store data linked to the item scanned.

DIY UPC Barcodes

Organizations like the U.S. Postal Service and UPS use UPC barcodes to track packages. Retailers like Walmart and Kmart use the codes to track inventory in warehouses and local department stores. Manufacturers even use the codes to control raw materials coming in and finished products going out. But you can use them yourself to manage your own small business or keep track of possessions in your home for insurance purposes.

There are a number of free software programs that allow individual consumers to create and print their own barcodes. All you need to do is link them to a database or spreadsheet, then print a label and attach it to whatever you want to track. With a smart phone or PDA your UPC bar codes become an easy and efficient way to keep track of anything you desire.

Despite their simplicity, UPC barcodes are invaluable to modern society. Without them, many things we take for granted would not be the same. If you need UPC Barcode for your products then SnapUPCCodes is your supplier. SnapUPCCodes has some of the best rates you can find.

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