Barcode Inventor dies aged 91

January 8, 2013
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barcodeOnly recently we reported on the Tanto Labels Blog how the humble Barcode had reached its 6o th birthday. Now only a few weeks later one of the cop-inventors who made the technology possible has passed away. Lucky enough to be able to celebrate the anniversary celebrations and how his invention has truly become fundamental to manufacturing and retail processes, Norman Joseph Woodland was also able to see how modern innovations has made the barcode accessible to everyone in the community via QR codes.

The Barcode co-inventors

Together with University classmate Bernard silver, Woodland created the strange black and white entity known as a barcode in the early 1940’s and saw it patented in the US in 1952. The two inventors saw quite a bit of frustration in the early days as it was 22 years before the barcode label was used commercially. In 1974 the first barcode label was scanned on a packet of chewing gum!

Sand and Morse Code

Woodland’s idea was based on Morse Code and he once stated to reporters that the notion came to him while sitting in a chair surrounded by sand. Drawing lines in the sand he realised he could create thin and thick lines as opposed to the recognised dots and dashes associated with Morse Code.

Woodland had worked on the Manhattan Project developing the US military’s first atomic bombs. Having already earned a mechanical engineering degree, Woodland dropped out of graduate school to work on the barcode idea. He spent time with his grandfather in Miami focusing on developing a code that could symbolically capture details about an item.

Born on September 6th 1921 in Atlantic City New Jersey, Norman Woodland died from the effects of Alzeimers disease and the complications of old age. He witnessed how the barcode has become fundamental to enterprise and commercial processes. It is estimated that 5 billion products are scanned and tracked every day.

Born on September 6th 1921 in Atlantic City New Jersey, Norman Woodland died from the effects of Alzeimers disease and the complications of old age. He witnessed how the barcode has become fundamental to enterprise and commercial processes. It is estimated that 5 billion products are scanned and tracked every day.

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