bar code

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Bar code

A bar code is a series of vertical bars of various widths that are used to represent (usually) twelve or thirteen digits by a varied pattern of bars. A laser scanner (reader), which identifies the correspondence between the bars and the digits, usually reads the bars. The information is then sent to a computer where it is processed. Almost everyone is familiar with the striped bars found on grocery and retail store items. These are bar codes, or more specifically, the North American

Universal Product Code (UPC) first appeared in stores in 1973 (after having been created in 1971). Since then, they have revolutionized the sales industry.

The UPC code consists of (usually) twelve pairs of thick and thin vertical bars that represent the manufacturers identity, product size and name. Price information, which is not part of the bar code, is determined by the store. Bar codes are read by handheld wand readers or fixed scanners linked to point of sale (POS) terminals.

Beginning in 2005, the GS1 US (formerly the UPC) also began using another system. It is called the European Article Number (EAN) code. This internationally accepted system uses 13 numbers, instead of the original 12 numbers. The dark bars are one to three units wide and the light bars are from one to four units wide. In this way, each item is assigned a unique numeric code, which is printed as a bar code on packaging and materials. In addition, the Japanese Article Number (JAN) code has also been adopted.

Bar codes are also used for non-retail purposes. One of the earliest uses for bar codes was as an identifier on railroad cars. Organizers of sporting events also take advantage of bar code technology. For example, as runners of the Boston Marathon complete the 26 mi (42 km) course in Massachusetts, they turn over a bar code tag that allows race officials to quickly tabulate results.

From 1965 through 1982, the United States Post Office experimented with optical character recognition (OCR) and bar code technology to speed up mail delivery. In 2006, the Post Office utilized another type of bar code called the POSTNET bar code.

Consisting of full and half height bars representing the zip-code and delivery address, the bar code allows mail to be sorted automatically at speeds of up to 700 pieces per minute. Bar codes used on retail books use the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) system, which identifies books on the basis of the books country of origin and its price.

Originally, one-dimensional bar codes used only the bars width to encode. Two-dimensional bar codes are now also used to encode both horizontally and vertically. This two-dimensional system allows much more information to be encoded. Instead of lasers, they typically use digital cameras. Different types of two-dimensional systems include PDF417 (the most common two-dimensional code), MaxiCode (used by United Parcel Service [UPS]), and QR Code (primarily for Toyota parts and Japanese cell phones).

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barcode, computer coding system that uses a printed pattern of lines and bars to identify such things as products, mail and packages, and customer accounts; the term also is used for similar coding systems that do not use bar-based patterns. Barcodes are read by optically scanning the printed pattern and using a computer program to decode the pattern. In a linear barcode system, the code itself contains no information about the item to which it is assigned but represents a string of identifying numbers or letters. When the code is read by an optical scanner linked to a computerized or networked device, the device can provide and record information about the item, such as its price or the quantity sold, from and to databases.

Americans Bernard Silver and Norman Woodland the first barcode system in the 1940s. The first standardized barcode adopted for general use was the linear Universal Product Code (UPC), chosen by North American supermarkets in 1973; it entered commerical use in 1974, but barcode scanners were not widely deployed until the 1980s. The original UPC used a set of two dark (usually black) and two light (usually white) bars of specified thicknesses to represent 12 numbers, but beginning in 2005 the Uniform Code Council, now known as GS1 US, adopted the similar European Article Numbering Code (EAN), which encodes 13 numbers and had become the international standard. The standards for the international product barcode system are managed by GS1, formerly known as EAN International, which is based in Brussels. The dark bars may be from one to three units wide and the light bars from one to four units. For registration purposes two one-unit dark bars are placed at each end and in the middle. Each item is assigned a unique numeric code, which is printed as a barcode on the item's packaging.

So-called two-dimensional (2D) barcodes permit the encoding of information about an item in addition to an identifying code. In a 2D barcode, two axes, or directions, are used for recording and reading the codes and the bar size is reduced, increasing the space available for data in the way that a column of words improves on a column of letters. Some 2D codes do not use bars, such as the United Parcel Service's hexagon-based Maxicode. Manufacturers and others now use 2D Quick Response (QR) codes on products and other objects to provide information associated with those items directly to individuals who can read the barcodes using smartphones.

An emerging technology, radio-frequency identification (RFID), could supplant the barcode in most applications. The newer radio-based devices overcome many of the limitations inherent in the barcode's optical technology.

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bar code (or barcode) A printed machine-readable code that consists of parallel bars of varied width and spacing. The application most commonly observed is the coding on food and other goods that is read at the checkout and translated into a line of print on the bill showing product and cost. The information is also used to update stock records and provide sales statistics.

In the US the code used for this purpose is the Universal Product Code (UPC) and in Europe it is the European Article Numbering (EAN) code. The UPC decodes initially into two five-digit numbers. The first five identify the supplier and the next five are the item number within that supplier's range of goods. From this information the checkout terminal can access the details to be printed on the bill. The EAN code has a two-digit number to indicate country of origin, then the two five-digit numbers, followed by a check digit. The EAN arrangement simplifies the allocation of codes to suppliers. Only the two-digit code and the format need to be agreed internationally.

Other codes are used for shop-floor data collection, library systems, and monitoring the circulation of confidential documents. The advantage of bar codes is that they can be produced and read by relatively simple equipment. Codes used for these purposes are Code 39, Codabar, and “2 of 5”. See also bar code scanner.

Two-dimensional (2D) bar codes, e.g. PDF417, are becoming more common but do require a special reader. PDF-417 is a two-dimensional bar code that can store up to about 1800 printable ASCII characters or 1100 binary characters per symbol. The symbol is rectangular; the dimensions can be adjusted to grow with the data. There is no theoretical limit on the amount of data that can be stored in a group of PDF-417 symbols.

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Bar code

Almost everyone is familiar with the striped bars found on grocery and retail store items. These are bar codes, or more specifically, the Universal Product Code (UPC). UPC codes first appeared in stores in 1973 and have since revolutionized the sales industry.

The UPC code consists of ten pairs of thick and thin vertical bars that represent the manufacturer's identity, product size and name. Price information, which is not part of the bar code, is determined by the store. Bar codes are read by hand-held wand readers or fixed scanners linked to point of sale (POS) terminals.

Bar codes are also used for non-retail purposes. One of the earliest uses for bar codes was as an identifier on railroad cars. Organizers of sporting events also take advantage of bar code technology. For example, as runners of the Boston Marathon complete the 26 mi (42 km) course, they turn over a bar code tag that allows race officials to quickly tabulate results.

From 1965 through 1982, the United States Post Office experimented with optical character recognition (OCR) and bar code technology to speed up mail delivery. The Post Office now utilizes another type of bar code called the POSTNET bar code. Consisting of full and half height bars representing the zip-code and delivery address, the bar code allows mail to be sorted automatically at speeds of up to 700 pieces per minute.

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bar code • n. a machine-readable code in the form of numbers and a pattern of parallel lines of varying widths, printed on and identifying a product. Also called Universal Product Code.

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bar code (Universal Product Code) Coded information consisting of thick and thin lines, and designed for computer recognition. At checkouts, a laser beam scans the bar code and a light-sensitive detector picks up the reflected signal, which consists of a pattern of pulses. The store's computer translates this into product information.