5 Interesting Facts about Product Coding

Product codes have come a long way since they were first dreamed up by Joe Woodland in 1949. The bar codes that appear on millions of products today did not become standardized until the 1970s. Part of the delay was because computer and optical laser technologies needed to catch up with product code development.

Things started to come together in the early 1970s. Kroger grocery stores had developed a circular “bulls-eye” product code in conjunction with several technology companies and RCA. Then, in 1972, the first test was done and it was confirmed it was possible for optical readers to “scan” and read the “bulls-eye” product codes.

However, this was just one major grocery store chain. In order for Joe Woodland’s vision to become a reality, a universal product code would need to be developed. The new product codes were called UPCs.

Food, beverage, and consumer goods manufacturers got on board and started printing UPCs on their products. Finally, on June 26, 1974, at Troy’s Marsh Supermarket in Troy, OH, the first UPC was scanned off a pack of Wrigley’s chewing gum.

From there, grocery stores and retailers quickly updated their checkout equipment to the new UPC optical readers. Since then, UPCs and optical readers have come a long way. To discover other interesting facts about product coding, we invite you to continue reviewing the following infographic.

Afterward, if you need help with designing and installing state-of-the-art product packaging, labeling, and coding systems, please feel free to contact GCB Solutions, Inc. directly today!


  1. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/history-bar-code-180956704/


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