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The bar code turns 40


On April 3, 1973, leaders of the American grocery industry selected a single standard for product identification that the world knows today as the bar code.

With this single move, initiated to improve inventory management and speed at checkout counters, came the birth of a global language of business.

“As we celebrate the advances of the past 40 years, our sights are set on industry’s goals for tomorrow,” said Art Smith, president and CEO, GS1 Canada. “The push for business processes based on globally standardized data will help organizations safeguard against 21st century health, safety, and security risks in the supply chain, while realizing significant cost savings in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.”

During the last four decades, the bar code has become a foundation of business processes for close to 2 million users worldwide. These standards allow these users to speak a common language that not only connects their companies across geographical and cultural boundaries but also allows industry leaders to leverage the power of information to improve people’s lives around the globe.

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From its humble beginnings, the bar code itself is now a ubiquitous element of modern civilization. From food traceability, to automatic restocking of store shelves, to faster and more efficient export and import, to patient safety, the bar code has transformed how organizations communicate, work together, and engage in trade.

“The bar code revolution over the last 40 years is a testament to the power achievable through industry collaboration,” said Smith.