Perhaps solemn news to be highlighting on Christmas Day, nevertheless we believe it’s worth a mention. Reuters reports that co-creator of the barcode, Norman Joseph Woodland, has sadly passed away at the age of 91.
The barcode was a creation of Woodland’s when he was still a graduate student, partnering with a fellow classmate, Bernard Silver, to bring the black-and-white striped concept to life. The “Morse code”-inspired concept was originally said to have come to Woodland whilst sitting on a chair which was consequentially surrounded by sand.
“I poked my four fingers into the sand and for whatever reason – I didn’t know – I pulled my hand toward me and drew four lines,” Woodland said. “I said: ‘Golly! Now I have four lines, and they could be wide lines and narrow lines instead of dots and dashes’.”
Of course, the barcode has since gone on to become the priority method in which pricing information for almost everything we buy today, is stored. It also serves as a convenience to shoppers, versus the age-old method of having to ask the shopkeeper for the current price a certain product is available for, directly.
With the invention of the smartphone, the barcode is also becoming a method for finding bargains, too. With almost every product on the shelves having one, modern-day shoppers have found that taking their smartphone into a physical retail store and scanning the barcode on the product(s) they wish to purchase can sometimes result in finding that product for a cheaper price online.
The report concludes by noting that Woodland had originally patented the idea behind the barcode for $15,000 (£9,300). The U.S patent covering the technologies contained in the barcode method today is thought to reflect a worth closer to $130,000 (£80,000).