Happy 40th Birthday to the Barcode

On Friday, June 26, 1974, Sharon Buchanan scanned a UPC barcode to ring up a pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum. While this may not seem significant, this simple action changed everything—June 26, 1974 was the first time a barcode was ever scanned.

While barcodes had been in development for years before, it wasn’t until June 26, 1974 that they were actually used. Prior to the barcode, there was no universal system for assigning products—each company had their own way of doing things, which led to high error rates and inefficiencies.

Now, 40 years later, it’s hard to imagine a world without barcodes—they are on everything we own!

Honor the barcode and its 40th year by learning the history of barcodes.