The Inventor Of The Barcode, Norman Joseph Woodland, Dies At 92

Although its first patent application was in 1949, it was not until 1974 that the first item (a packet of gum in Ohio) was scanned in a supermarket.

Norman Joseph Woodland, the man who invented the barcode, has died. The ubiquitous gaggle of lines, some fat and some thin, was inspired by Morse code, Woodland had said. The idea came about in 1949 after a colleague at Drexel University, where Woodland worked as a lecturer, overheard a supermarket executive pondering whether or not it was possible to read product information automatically at checkout.

The creator of the QR code's older brother was born in Atlantic City in 1921 and gained a degree in Mechanical Engineering before becoming a lecturer at Drexel. After he and Bernard Silver, his university colleague, obtained a patent, Woodland moved to IBM, which, 20 years later, began to develop commercial applications for the technology. He was awarded the National Medal of Technology in 1992 and, last year, was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

[Image from Wikipedia]

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