CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly
October 19, 2018
Forward Thinking

Happy birthday to U.P.C.!

The now-ubiquitous Universal Product Code celebrated its 35th birthday in June.

Remember when bar codes were new and exotic? If so, you might not be as young as you think. The now-ubiquitous Universal Product Code (U.P.C.) celebrated its 35th birthday in June. To celebrate, GS1 US, the U.P.C. administrator in the United States, threw a party with a giant U.P.C.- decorated birthday cake at its Annual U Connect Conference.

The code, which consists of 59 machine-readable bars and 12 digits that identify the item and its manufacturer, was originally designed to speed up grocery checkouts. The first live U.P.C. scan occurred on June 26, 1974, when a cashier at a supermarket in Troy, Ohio, USA scanned a pack of gum. The productivity improvements since then have saved retailers, manufacturers, and consumers billions of dollars. Now adopted by more than 25 industries, U.P.C. codes are scanned more than 10 billion times each day, according to GS1 US.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you're not already logged in, you will be asked to log in or register.

Want more articles like this? Sign up for a free subscription to Supply Chain Executive Insight, a monthly e-newsletter that provides insights and commentary on supply chain trends and developments. Click here to subscribe.

We Want to Hear From You! We invite you to share your thoughts and opinions about this article by sending an e-mail to ?Subject=Letter to the Editor: Quarter 2009: Happy birthday to U.P.C.!"> . We will publish selected readers' comments in future issues of CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly. Correspondence may be edited for clarity or for length.

Want more articles like this? Subscribe to CSCMP's Supply Chain Quarterly.