What is barcode and How Barcode Works

BARCODE – Total Recall


The King George Medical University of Lucknow has started disposing of the waste by Computerized Biomedical Waste Tracking. The barcode shows how much waste has been generated from which site. Let’s investigate here how the barcode executes this function.

In a grocery shop noting down the prices of various items on a piece of paper and get the total sum of it used to be quite a hectic task. Moreover, the possibility of errors always prevailed. Today, every product is embellished with barcode technique. The information about the price, manufacturing date, place of manufacturing, and the expiry date etc can now be fed to a computer by just a single click. Apart from the market, this system is now largely being used by the governmental activities or procedures also. Earlier in India, bar-coding was done only on the products meant for exporting. In the year 1998, the National Information Industrial Work Force made it mandatory to use the barcode system in all the products. Gradually, the electronic billing system prevalent in the supermarkets compelled the companies to use the barcode on all their products. Today, even the vegetables such as the potato and onion are sold with barcode system, and it has become easier for the people to sell and purchase the products. In India, Tata Group and ITC were the first to use the barcode system in order to maintain the record of their employees.

What is bar-coding?
In a product, there is a black strip with vertical lines which is known as linear barcode. It is of two types – UPC-A, and EAN-13. There are thirty black or while lines on a barcode, out of which, 24 lines indicate the numeric digits and 6 are guard bars.

Barcode reading
The Barcode is read by the help of the price scanner (barcode reader) and the information is stored or fed in the computer. The laser beam in the scanner transforms the line and the space into digital data. Instead of lines, the barcode made of random rectangular dots is also used. It is known as 2D barcode, and it is read by a different scanner.

How to get the barcode?
Officially, the barcode is made available by a non-profit international organization GS-1. Including India, there are 110 members of this international organization. It collects some charges in return of the barcode services. Barcodes are printed by a very special printer. Some companies such as buyabarcode.com and barcode1.com etc re-sell the barcodes in the internet. The charges of these re-sold barcodes are also reasonable, and instead of buying from GS-1, many of the small companies purchase the barcodes from these barcode re-selling companies.

Information enveloped in the barcode
The barcode consists of the name of the manufacturer, product name, quantity, price, and the manufacturing and expiry dates. In the barcode of 13 digits, the first 3 digits indicate the manufacturing country, and the next five digits show the details of the product. The last five digits indicate whether the barcode reader has perfectly read the barcode.

What are the other benefits?
Besides the convenience in billing, it is also very helpful for the shopkeeper or retailer. When the product is brought to the supermarket, its information is fed in the computer. The computer also receives the information as soon as the information is fed into it while selling. This makes it easier to know about the daily demands of various products.

Interesting facts to know:

Poverty compelled to sell the patent
In 1940, the barcode system was invented by the two students of Philadelphia – Norman Joseph Woodland, and Bernard Silver. Due to the extreme poverty, they had sold the patent on this invention. Later on, inspired by this barcode model of Woodland-Silver, the IBM student George J. Laurer designed the vertical barcode.

The first ever barcode was round shaped
The first barcode was used as the label on the railroad car (train). However, it wasn’t accepted globally until the development of the Grocery Checkout System. The first barcode made by Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver was round-shaped like a bull’s eye.

Printed on chewing gum for the first time
First ever scanning friendly barcode was used on 26 June 1974 on the pack of Wrigley chewing gum in a grocery shop in Ohio, USA. The credit for promoting the use of barcode goes to Allen L. Haberman, a supermarket executive in Massachusetts. He promoted the use of barcode in a widespread manner.

  • More than 5 billion barcodes are scanned daily in various retail markets worldwide.
  • More than 50 Lac barcodes are being used in the world.
  • The laser scanner of barcode functions with the maximum speed of 200 scans per second.

Identification of a country through the barcode

The first three digits of the barcode indicate the name of the country where the product has been manufactured. Here are a few barcodes that indicate the name of the countries:

India: 890
America: 000-009
China: 690-695
Taiwan: 471
France: 300-370
Japan: 450-459

You too can read the barcode

Using the Smartphone, even a common man can read the barcode without any difficulty. There are few barcode scanner apps such as the ‘Barcode Scanner’, ‘Barcode QR Scanner’, ‘2D Barcode Reader’, and ‘QR Barcode Scanner’ etc. Using these apps, you can easily collect the information about products. The data-connection in the mobile phone is essential to execute this task.

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