You see them everywhere today when shopping for groceries and just about every product out there. Barcode scanning has been around for some time but did you know that the first use of barcode scanning was for railroad applications?
The concept for barcode scanning dates back to the late 1940s and over the years the technology has been refined. Railroad companies used this technology to label railroad cars. These codes would be applied to the outside of the car and included information such as cargo, destination and other information that historically would have been found on waybills. Using a special scanner, the cars would be scanned and then positioned on the train making the process faster and more efficient.
Barcode scanning really didn’t become commercially successful until the development of the Universal Product Code or UPC used to automate supermarket checkout systems that are the standard today. The first commercial application of using barcodes was by the Wrigley Company which put barcodes on packs of their chewing gum in 1974. Other products soon followed suit and before too long gone were the days of a cashier wringing in the price manually for products.
A variation on this technology now exists in the form of QR codes that are becoming more ubiquitous. Using mobile phone devices, you can scan a QR code that takes you to a website for more information on the product or service.
But this all began on the rails many years ago.