One of the co-inventors of the barcode, Norman Joseph Woodland, has recently died in his home in New Jersey at the age of 91.
He came up with the idea of the barcode in the 1940s with his friend from university, Bernard Silver. It was patented in 1952, but this patent was later sold for a mere £9,300, to a battery storage company called Philco. This patent expired in the 1960s though, after which the barcode was tweaked into what we use today. However, it did not appear in any shops until over 22 years later, this is because of the lack of the laser technology required to read the bar patterns to get the information from them at the time. It is now scanned by lasers more than 5 billion times a day.
The man was born in Atlantic City, and randomly came up with the idea of a barcode when he was sitting on a beach, by moving his fingers through some sand while thinking about Morse code. He then considered how these lines could vary in width, instead of being the dots and dashes used in Morse code.
Woodland was added to the US’s National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2011. He clearly was an ingenious man, and he has provided us with a great invention. If you have any views on this topic, share them by clicking “Read More & Comment”.
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