Barcode, the invention that revolutionized products turns 50

There are more than a billion products in the world recognizable thanks to that row of black lines and numbers that is the barcode, which celebrates its 50th birthday today. In fact, it was created on April 3, 1973 when, in the United States, the main large-scale consumer companies decided to introduce a single standard for product identification.

The invention bears the signature of two students

It was invented by two engineering students from the University of Drexel, whom the manager of a supermarket had asked to work on the idea of ​​a code for marking products that would allow automatic recognition at checkouts and speed up queues and payments.

A pack of gum was the first product scanned

First product to be scanned, a year later, a 61 cent pack of gum. An invention that has revolutionized by globalizing the identification of content, companies and provenance and that edora many other indications and data.

In Italy every year 2.7 billion receipts

In Italy, every year 350,000 consumer products packaged with the GS1 barcode pass through the checkouts of supermarkets, hypermarkets and self-service points of sale 30.2 billion times, generating 2.7 billion receipts. GS1 barcodes (the most common) are made up of 13 digits, i.e. the company prefix that identifies the company internationally; the product code; a check digit, calculated on the basis of the others present in the code through an algorithm.

Transition to be implemented by the end of 2027

Meanwhile, new generation codes such as Qr codes are increasingly popular, which link to web pages with useful information for companies, regulators and consumers. The GS1 organization has launched a global initiative since the end of 2020 for the transition to these new generation codes, with the aim of achieving it by 2027. Consumers could access, via the link contained in the QR code, information on the product: from ingredients and recycling guidelines, to offers, user ratings, social content and recall notices.