A Short History of Barcode Scanners

May 3rd 2018 15:00:00 PM



Barcode scanners seem ubiquitous, but for those of us who worked in retail, industry, or wholesale in the days before barcode scanners, we know the pain of sore fingers from keying in hundreds of orders an hour. Barcode scanners save companies so much time today that it’s almost impossible to remember a day when they weren’t available to businesses. But they were only invented after World War II and became a common business tool much later.

The story of the barcode scanner begins in 1948 when Bernard Silver, a graduate student at Drexel Institute of Technology, overheard a conversation between the owner of a local chain grocery store and the college’s dean. The grocery store owner was pleading with the dean to fund research into a solution that would track inventory. The dean denied the grocery store owner’s request, but Bernard, an enterprising young man, decided to follow up. He went to go see his good friend Norman Joseph Woodland.

Woodland dropped out of school to research the problem. One day, he came up with the solution: lines and dots, like Morse code. That became the barcode system we know today.

However, Woodland’s solution could not be implemented on a large scale until the 1960s. Philco bought Woodland and Silver’s patent for $15,000 and eventually sold it to RCA. Eventually, the railroad industry began using barcodes, but it remained part of industry, rather than retail, until the 1970s.

After that, it was just a matter of time until the retail sector, especially grocery stores, caught on. By the 1980s, over 8,000 stores per year were converting to barcode technology because of its proven success. And, by 1989, Scanco is formed, and now, nearly 30 years later, we’re still helping manufacturers and distributors use barcodes and barcode scanners to increase their efficiency and streamline their operations.

In our nearly 30 years of experience spent solving manufacturing and distribution challenges using barcodes, barcode scanners, and newly developed scanning technologies such as NFC and RFID, Scanco has helped thousands of customers improve productivity.

Contact Scanco online or at (330) 645-9959 to get information and advice about the next generation of affordable barcode scanner options for Sage, NetSuite, and Acumatica ERP.

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