Auto ID History
The AIDC 100 was founded in May 1997. The instigators were George Goldberg (Scan Newsletter), Ben Nelson (Markem) and Chet Benoit (Welch Allyn). We will be forever grateful to them for this initiative.
The purpose was to recognize the top 100 contributors to the Automatic Identification Industry. Sixty charter members were initially identified. Since that time, the membership has greatly expanded to reflect the enormous growth of this unbelievable industry that has greatly impacted lives throughout the world. You are encouraged to visit our website at: https://aidc100.org/
In October 2010 a relatively short history of the AIDC 100 was created by Dick Meyers and Paul Bergé. If interested in viewing, kindly go to:
One of the very first pioneers of the Bar Code industry is Dave Collins. His activity dates back into the mid 1960’s. He founded the very first “bar code” company called Computer Identics. Dave holds multiple patents and has also received the industry’s very prestigious Richard R. Dilling Award in 1992.
He has put together a very informative video about some of the early days of bar coding. To view, click:
A video that gives an overview of the Bar Coding and RFID industries was created by Dr. Clive Hohberger of Zebra. To view, go to: https://youtu.be/ZK-aY3fx69A
In June 2021, a Zoom conference was held in Eastern Europe. Brian Marcel asked AIDC 100 Chairman Emeritus Dick Meyers to provide an overview of his 40 plus years of working with this technology. The result is a video that can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0zpkZwQeNo
The result is a video that can be found here.
FOLLOWING IS A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE ORIGINS OF BAR CODING:
- 1934: Not exactly a barcode but a precursor based on a light sensitive and response technique. Purists may not agree but engineering types would say this concept was the first! Patent granted to John Kermode, Douglas Young and Harry Sparks.
- 1949: First Bar Code patent was issued to Bernard Silver and M.J. Woodland. This was the “Bull’s Eye Code.”
- 1961: Sylvania General installed the first bar code scanner on the Boston & Maine railroad. The scanner read red, white, blue and black bars.
- 1968: Dave Collins founded Computer Identics, the first bar code only company.
- 1971: General Motors installed a $10,000 fixed-position helium-neon laser scanner.
- 1971: Al Wurz bought Magnavox’s General Atronics division. It was renamed Accu-Sort.
- 1971: Norand released first hand held wand scanner.
- 1971: Monarch Marking Systems developed Codabar.
- 1971: AIM was founded with four companies.
- 1971: NCR released Color Bar Code.
- 1972: Kroger in Cincinnati installed the first retail scanning system.
- 1972: Dr. David Allais of Intermec developed Interleaved 2 of 5.
- 1973: The Universal Product Code (UPC) standard was announced.
- 1974: NCR installed the first UPC scanning system at Marsh’s Supermarket in Troy, OH. A pack of Wrigley’s gum was the first item scanned.
- 1974: Dr. David Allais and Ray Stevens of Intermec developed Code 39.
- 1976: The National Retail Merchant’s Association (NRMA) chose OCR as a standard. It took ten more years before they switched to UPC.
- 1977: George Goldberg publishes the first issue of Scan Newsletter.
- 1977: New York marathon uses bar coding for scoring purposes.
- 1980: Sato introduced the first thermal transfer printer.
- 1980: RFID is invented.
- 1981: The first issue of Bar Code News is published.
- 1981: Norand releases the first CCD scanner.
- 1981: Code 128 is introduced by Computer Identics.
- 1981: UPC-EAN Shipping Container symbol originated.
- 1982: The DoD releases MIL STD 1189 utilizing Code 39.
- 1982: Symbol Technologies releases the first truly successful handheld laser scanner.
- 1982: The inaugural Scan-Tech is held in Dallas with tabletop displays.
- 1983: ANSI releases the first three national standards: Code 39, Codabar and Interleaved 2 of 5.
- 1983: Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) adopts bar code standards that utilize Code 39.
- 1984: The first Scan-Tech in Europe was held in The Netherlands.
- 1984: The health industry (HIBCC) establishes Code 39 as their standard.
- 1985: The first issue of Automatic ID News is published.
- 1985: The Federation of Automated Coding Technologies (FACT) is formulated.
- 1986: The first ID Expo is held in San Francisco.
- 1987: Dr. James Fales opens The Center for Automatic Identification at Ohio University.
- 1988: Data Matrix code symbol was released.
- 1988: Delta Services was founded.
- 1989: FACT approves the initial Data Identifier standard.
- 1990: Symbol Technologies announces a two-dimensional code called PDF 417.
- 1994: ISBT 128 global standard issued for blood, tissue and cellular therapy.
- 1994: The first QR code system was released in 1994 by the Japanese company Denso Wave, a Toyota subsidiary.
- 1997: AIDC 100 was formed.
Obviously, there are many other milestones over the past 50 plus years. The aforementioned are just a few of the key events that took place in the earlier era of automatic identification.
Bottom line, it is very difficult to imagine our lives today without the use of Bar Code technology. Not only is it beneficial to us, but industry as a whole survives and grows. As an example, Amazon could not possibly function as they do without bar coding. Lives are saved in the health industry with its’ use. We don’t even think about it as we purchase items in a supermarket. This dialogue could go on and on. The future promises even more!
Speaking of history … many of us remember “Scan-Quake” in San Jose, CA on October 17, 1989. An earthquake that killed nearly 70 people and took place around 5:03pm just as the convention was wrapping up for the day. We have “tall” stories about that event and they have been documented.
To review, go to:
It is not just technology that has made this industry so successful. The real achievement can be traced to multiple STANDARDS organizations starting back in the early 1970’s. Without worldwide agreement on how bar codes must be created and used, the level of success today would be virtually ZERO! Here is a partial list of some of the principle STANDARDS ORGANIZATIONS that have contributed so much and literally driven success:
AIAG, AIM ANSI, BISG, EAN, EIA, FACT, HIBCC. ISO/IEC/JTCI, GS-1, JAMA, MHI, UCC and many others.
Cognex created a very good summary of the various types of Bar Codes. It can be found at:
There are numerous resources that are available to those who are interested in exploring more about the history of Bar Coding. Quite a few books have been written. Members of the AIDC 100 have generously donated both written material as well as actual hardware as used in the early days. All of this material can be found in the archives of the Stony Brook University library in Stony Brook, Long ISland, NY. The listing of these archives may be found at:
In approximately 2000, Dick Meyers put together a Power Point presentation describing “How Scanners Work.” If interested in viewing, download by clicking on: “How Scanners Work”
And here is an interesting article from Smithsonian Magazine that appeared some time ago. Go to: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/history-bar-code-180956704/
Some AIDC 100 members created MEMOIRS of their many years of service to their industry. To review, select from below:
BRIAN MARCEL: Brian has published his memoirs in the form of an excellent book.
Go to: https://smile.amazon.com/Raise-Bar-Change-Game-Entrepreneurs/dp/1732276722/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=raise+the+bar+change+the+game&qid=1626375038&sr=8-1
A few years ago, our esteemed AIDC 100 Chairman Paul Bergé (deceased) extended tremendous effort by putting together a chart that portrays the great consolidation that has taken place in the Bar Code industry over the past 40 years.
Look below. (It is suggested that you enlarge for better viewing.)