Since the invention of Barcodes over 50 years ago, they have been widely used and key to accurate data capture and facilitating, the rapid movement of goods, and all types of automation.
A Barcode is an optical machine readable representation of data or information (just like text is for a human being) and the information which the Barcode contains is about the object which is attached to.
A Linear or 1 dimensional (1D) Barcodes is a single line bar code. The UPC bar code is linear, as are Code 39, I 2 of 5, and Code 128. The lines and spaces in this type of barcode are varied therefore, representing a different set of data.
Later Barcodes evolved into rectangles, dots, hexagons and other geometric patterns in 2 dimensions (2D) barcodes.
Although 2D barcodes use a variety of symbols, they are still generally referred to as barcodes.
Barcodes were originally scanned by special optical scanners called barcode readers, once scanned then software interpreted the data to make it understandable humans. However, these days the ability to read Barcodes is available on a number of devices including desktop printers and Smart phone’s.
The first use of barcodes was to label railroad cars, but they were not commercially successful until eventually they were used to automate supermarket checkout systems, a task for which they have now become almost universal.
Since the very first scanning of the Universal Product Code (UPC) Barcode back in 1974, the use of Barcodes has spread to many other tasks that are generically referred to as Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC).
Whether at the Point-of-Sale, in a hospital, or in a manufacturing environment these little black and white images deliver incredible value.
Barcodes in common use are covered by international standards. International standards also cover print quality measurements and equipment.
Barcode technology standards define:
- Rules for representing data in an optically readable format,
- Rules and techniques for printing or marking,
- Reading and decoding techniques, and
- Rules for measuring the quality of printed/marked symbols