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The Eloquence of the Barcode

The history of the barcode is not as cut and dry as one would think. More than one group has been credited with inventing the technology. How does one encode data on a machine, store it on a physical media, then read it at some later date? Punch cards and paper tape have been doing that for centuries. The problem was storing that data without cutting holes in the carrier. The overall issue was common enough that efforts were launched in several different industries. In the 1930’s, John Kermode, Douglas Young, and Harry Sparkes created a four bar barcode. They were Westinghouse engineers, and not surprisingly the application was to automate the payment processing of electric power bills.

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