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History of the Barcode and Its Applications

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Economics
Wordcount: 2515 words Published: 12th Mar 2018

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The innovation of barcodes has really emerged as one of the biggest innovation and it has been very influential for the inventory handlers. Especially if we look at the supermarkets it is a very tough business because it involves a lot of inventory handling. Maintaining inventory which is not too much and not too less is a very critical issue for the owners. But with the advent of this automatic readable technology things are quite easy and speedy nowadays.

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This paper tells us that how initially supermarkets had to manually count and keep track of their inventories and not only supermarkets but all the industries who involve handling of large amount of inventories had to come across high costs and it also took a lot of time, but the emergence of this remarkable innovation has speed up the processes which has eventually helped lowering costs, saving time and last but not the least in satisfying customers.

This paper also focuses on the different types and dimensions of innovation and explains that how the innovation of barcodes fit into those dimensions. 2


Standardized tags are the most prevalent of the programmed information passage strategies. It is an example of parallel bars and spaces of variable widths orchestrated in a particular decided example to speak to a comparing number, letter, or image. The data in a standardized tag is held in the relative thickness and relative position of the lines and spaces inside the particular information characters. Scanners change over the bars and spaces into usable data for information passage.


While it may appear as though standardized tags have been with us everlastingly, standardized tags didn’t generally have an effect until the 1970’s. It wasn’t until 1974 that the first standardized identification scanner was utilized and the first item bar coded. Be that as it may the thought had been around for a short time. In 1932, Wallace Flint proposed that a mechanized retail checkout framework may be practical. While His idea was considered unworkable, Flint kept on supporting the thought of computerized checkout all through his vocation. Actually, Flint, who happened to turn into the VP of the relationship of evolved ways of life around 40 years after the fact, was instrumental in the improvement of the UPC (Universal Product Code). Throughout the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s few code organizations were created including a bull’s-eye code, numeral codes, and different arrangements. Retail applications drove the early innovative improvements of bar coding, yet mechanical applications soon emulated. 3

Initial Uses of Bar Codes

In 1948, a nearby natural pecking order store holder approached Drexel Institute of Technology in Philadelphia getting some information about exploration into a system for consequently perusing item data throughout checkout. Bernard Silver, a graduate understudy at Drexel Institute, alongside individual graduate learner Norman Joseph Woodland, teamed together to create an answer. Forest initially proposed utilizing ultraviolet light delicate ink. A working model was manufactured yet dismisses as being excessively unsteady and lavish. On October 20, 1949, Woodland and Silver succeeded in building a working model depicting their development as “article arrangement… through the medium of distinguishing examples”. On October 7, 1952, they were allowed a patent for their “Characterizing Apparatus and Method”. Deliberations to create a working framework quickened in the 1960’s.bar coding was initially utilized industrially as a part of 1966, yet to make the framework satisfactory to the business overall there would need to be an industry standard. By 1970, Logicon Inc. had created the Universal Grocery Products Identification Code (UGPIC). The main organization to deliver standardized identification supplies for retail exchange (utilizing UGPIC) was the American organization Monarch Marking (1970), and for modern utilize, the British organization Plessey Telecommunications (1970).in 1972, a Kroger store in Cincinnati started utilizing a bull’s-eye code. Throughout that same time period, an advisory group was structured inside the staple business to choose a standard code to be utilized as a part of the business. IBM proposed a configuration, based upon the UGPIC work and like today’s UPC code. On April 3, 1973, the board chose the UPC image (focused around the IBM proposal) as the business standard. The accomplishment of the framework from that point forward has prodded on the improvement of other coding frameworks. George J. Laurer is viewed as the designer of U.p.c. alternately Uniform Product Code. In June of 1974, the first U.p.c. scanner was introduced at a Marsh’s general store in Troy, Ohio. The main item to have a standardized tag was Wrigley’s Gum. 4


Today, standardized tags are all over the place. Rental auto organizations stay informed concerning their armada by method for standardized tags on the auto guard. Aerial transports track traveler gear, lessening the possibility of misfortune. NASA depends on standardized identifications to screen the many high temperature tiles that need to be supplanted after every space shuttle excursion, and the development of atomic waste is followed with a scanner tag stock framework. Standardized identifications even show up on people! Style fashioners stamp standardized tags on their models to help direction design shows. (The codes store data about what equips each one model ought to be wearing and when they are expected on the runway). New era of Bar Codes opens potential outcomes for new applications, for instance Data Matrix permits a lot of data to be put away in a little space. This is for instance is utilized within health awareness division. Scanner tags are as of now the best known and most generally utilized programmed ID engineering.


The eventual fate of programmed ID, on the other hand, is likely in radio recurrence (RFID). Modest transmitters implanted in things don’t oblige a viewable pathway to the scanner, nor are they subject to corruption by presentation. Effectively being used in retail locations to help forestall shoplifting and on toll streets to speed activity, the essential obstruction to more extensive utilization of RFID has been the expense of the silicon chips needed. Today, the five-penny chip is close nearby. On the off chance that the expense might be lessened to short of what one penny a chip, later on your breakfast oat box will be a radio transmitter. 5


Developing a new product is not that easy as it may seem to be, it requires a lot of continuous effort and determination on the end of the producer. An innovative product is of great benefit not only to its users but it is of great value to the innovating firm as it generates higher value for the firm and allows the firm to enjoy a better competitive position in the market. But it should be kept in mind that developing an innovative does not means that the struggle has ended. When an innovative product enters a market it creates a lot of hype but as the time passes it may start to lose its uniqueness and its exciting features may start to fade, this might be due to competitors copying the product or the simply the users get bore of using it. Therefore, the companies have to strive continuously to maintain their innovation for a longer period of time.

Similarly innovation can be in the form of better services which provide better quality and customer satisfaction at a price lower than the competitors. Financial markets involve service innovation as the try their level best to facilitate and satisfy their customers. But the innovative edge and this level of high satisfaction among the customers remains until the innovation is not imitated by the competitor. There remains a lot of pressure on the innovators to innovate continuously to maintain their strategic edge over the other firms and in order to do so some firms may look to bring some changes to the product design, some ponder over the quality, some try to wipe out their enemies by controlling and lowering the cost and some of the innovating firms look to bring changes into their processes. 6

So, the only way of maintaining your strategic advantage is to innovate continuously and there are several theories for it.


The S-curve measures the adoption rate of an innovation. At x-axis we measure the time and the percentage of market penetration is measured at the y-axis. At its early stages the adoption rate of an innovation is at the lower side and only the innovators are accustomed to the product, afterwards some early adopters emerge as they try using the new product and finally the late majority and laggards come into act, all this pattern is visually shown by the S-shape curve.

The process of innovation basically starts with a new idea. The stage is very crucial as there are very key questions to be answered by the innovating firm which include funding and testing of the new product as early adopters are ready to give a try to the new technology or new product or service. After the early adopters firm makes decisions on its target market and it is the point when the new product moves from specific segments to more diverse segments and the company starts shifting towards mass production which ultimately leads to standardization. Due to standardization market tends to mature. At the latter stage people who avoid risk or simply you can say late adopters join the party and start using the product. At this stage the only room left for innovation is in the form of design, quality and economies of scale which is known as incremental innovation. 7

Technology Push:

A technology push is a situation when the firms are forced to carry out an innovative process due to some emerging technology or due to a new combination of existing technologies.

Sometimes in order to stay in the market race and to maintain a good strategic advantage companies have to carry out an innovative process unwillingly, for instance if your competitor deploys new quality which enhances quality of the final product and increases its chances to be praised highly by the end users then you are forced to innovate and bring some new and exciting to match or surpass your competitor.

On the other hand sometimes technological opportunities may provoke or push firms to innovate.

Market pull:

The ultimate goal of an organization is to maximize its profit and it is only possible if caters its market in an efficient manner. Sometimes need for a new product or solution to a problem may be demanded by the customers themselves. The need is identified by potential customers or market research. This situation is referred to as Market pull.

Disruptive innovation

The theory of disruptive innovation involves introduction of a product which is primarily aimed at providing simplicity, convenience, accessibility and affordability in an environment where 8

intricacy and high costs are the dominant factors. Initially disruptive information is applied to niche market but eventually the new concept or technology transforms the whole industry. Disruptive innovators are not regarded as breakthrough forces but they are considered a positive force they may not help in making a product or service better but they surely contribute a lot to make sure better accessibility and availability of the product or service.

Breakthrough innovation

As the name suggests breakthrough innovation is something like ‘’out of the box’’ solution for any problem which cannot be compared to existing technologies or methodologies. Mostly the research and development departments are responsible for this innovation and the process is carried out in the labs as it requires constant research. The innovators looking for breakthrough do not have customers in mind because this innovation is initially focused at the supply side of the supply chain and then if required the technology is pushed on to the customers.


The innovation of barcode according to me should be termed as process innovation as it totally changed the way the inventories were managed before, specially the cumbersome job of the supermarkets has seen a great relief by the advent of this automatic readable technology. Barcodes have reduced time and saved a lot of costs, initially supermarkets owners had to count all the items on their shelves to stay updates with the inventory status and they had to employ several people for this task which obviously resulted in higher costs and it suck a lot of time also. 9

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This for companies has not only reduced costs or decreased the time but it has also been influential in satisfying customers, the customers do not have to wait for long for the bills on the counter, the barcode reader is flashed on the barcode which is on the product and the price of the product emerges in seconds on the cashier’s computer screen.

According to S-curve initially the users of bar-coding system were limited as the early adopters of this remarkable innovation were the supermarket owners who actually initiated or felt the need for such a product but as this technology started getting recognition it was seen as a big hit and it was deployed by each and every industry which had to deal with bulks of inventory.

The innovation of a barcode is a technological development as it completely revolutionized the way the inventories were handled. Barcode is a pure case of market pull as it was initiated from the market as a president of a supermarket felt the desperate need of this remarkable innovation. Apart from that it is also disruptive innovation as it has made the handling of inventory more convenient, accessible, time saving and less costly as it was ever before. Barcode can also easily be termed as breakthrough innovation because it has been a real out of the box thing, no one at the time of its introduction would have thought even for a second that something as remarkable as barcodes will come and ease up the complex lives of the inventory handlers. 10


Brown, S. A. (April 2001). A History of the Bar Code.

Herstatt, P. D. (August 2000). Management of “technology push” development projects.

Ryan, V. (2013). WHAT IS MARKET PULL.

Seideman, T. (n.d.). Barcodes Sweep the WorldTony Seideman.

Tumati, P. (n.d.). Types of Innovations.


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