By Brian Sutter

On October 7, 61 years ago, two gentlemen by the names of Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver set out to help automate the checkout process at grocery stores. What they came up with would soon change how product information was stored and retrieved by a variety of businesses across a multitude of industries.

In 1952, Woodland and Silver created world’s first barcode. Their “bulls-eye” design was contrived of concentric circles and was not much different from the common barcode today.

October marks the 61st anniversary of the barcode and the bulls-eye barcode is seldom seen. What you may be aware of are QR codes, 1D barcodes (like the one on a pack of gum) 2D barcodes (like the ones on vaccine bottles), RFID and more.

If you aren’t really sure what a barcode is or how it works, don’t worry! Most of us see barcodes everywhere, but don’t give them much thought. In less than a minute, this video, What is a Barcode, explains the barcode basics and their advantages.

For the sake of celebrating the barcode, below are a few ways barcodes are being used in this day and age.

  • A creative and innovative example of barcode use is the way not-for-profit, RecycleBank, entices people to recycle. They are adding barcodes to recycling bins to provide incentive-based recycling. A barcode is embedded into the recycling bin – when the recycling truck picks up the bin, the barcode is scanned. Scanning the barcode automatically calculates the value of the recycled items.  The dollar amount of those recycled items can be redeemed through shopping coupons.
  • While there are several unique uses of the barcode, the edible barcode was our favorite. Edible barcodes, made out of squid ink, allow visitor’s dining-out the opportunity to scan the image and receive the recipe, ingredients and information about the dish.
  • Now used by smartphone users, barcode scanner apps can help people get nutrition facts, make price comparisons or even quickly go to a businesses’ site to get more info.
  • People equate barcodes to retail or warehouse use, not to small businesses, which is why is the least commonly thought application. However, SMB’s have reported an annual loss of $437,000 as a result of lost assets and inventory. Just think how much money your small business could save if you kept better records of asset and inventory.
  • A Florida-based company invented a passive RFID barcode chip that is compatible with human tissue. The hope is that this chip will be used in pacemakers, defibrillators and artificial joints.

Now barcodes can be taken into the afterlife: Visitors can scan the QR code imbedded into the head stone to learn more about the person’s life

Brian Sutter is the director of marketing at Wasp, responsible for the development and execution of the company’s marketing strategy. His role encompasses brand management, direct and channel marketing, public relations, advertising, and social media. Sutter joined Wasp as the marketing manager in 2006, with a focus on web presence, product promotions, and brand awareness. Follow WaspBarcode at @WaspBarcode.