Jeff Bezos, founder, chairman, and CEO of Seattle-based e-tailer Amazon.com. Inc., and George Laurer, creator of the Universal Product Code (UPC), a bar-code symbology for identifying and tracking items in stores, have been inducted into the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) Supply Chain Hall of Fame, it was announced yesterday at the CSCMP EDGE annual conference in Atlanta.
Bezos, 53, had been a computer scientist and investment banker when he left Wall Street and drove cross-country to Seattle, writing what would become the Amazon business plan along the way. He founded Amazon in 1994 and set it up in his garage. His interest in Internet retailing reportedly stemmed from a U.S. Supreme Court ruling at the time that exempted mail-order companies from collecting sales taxes in states where they lack a physical presence.
Starting as a seller of books and music, Amazon has mushroomed into a seller of virtually every product imaginable. The company is building out a network of huge distribution centers that are having a significant impact on warehouse labor, technology, and real estate. It is also building a powerful business providing logistics and fulfillment services to merchants who use Amazon's website as a virtual storefront.
Laurer, 93, created the UPC in 1973 while an engineer with IBM Corp., from which he retired 30 years ago. The first item marked with a 12-digit UPC code scanned at a retail checkout—a 10-pack of Wrigley's "Juicy Fruit" chewing gum—was at the Marsh supermarket in Troy, Ohio on June 26, 1974. Today UPC codes are ubiquitous in retailing and grocery operations throughout North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.