George J. Laurell, an American engineer and co-inventor of barcodes and a former IBM employee, died last week at the age of 94,media reported.
Laurel’s funeral was held Monday in his hometown of Wendell, North Carolina, according to an obituary released by his family. Laurel died at his home last week.
Laurel is considered the co-inventor of the Common Product Code (UPC), or barcode, which is now used in countless products, services and other items, and allows people to quickly identify products and their prices by scanning them.
In 1969, In Raleigh, North Carolina, Laurel was promoted to senior engineer and scientist at IBM, according to a tribute posted on IBM’s website.
“Just a few years later, in 1973, Laurel led the development of today’s ubiquitous barcodes, a symbol that changed almost every industry in the world,” IBM said in a tribute article. “
Laurel’s colleague at IBM, Norman Woodland, is believed to have been the first to come up with the concept of barcodes. He originally invented the barcode based on Morse code. Woodland died in 2012.
Woodland applied for a patent for the concept in 1952, but it was years before low-cost laser and computer technology emerged, and he was unable to develop it further.
Twenty years later, Laurel developed a scanner that could read code digitally. He also used a striped pattern in the barcode, rather than the circle pattern used by Woodland, which proved unsuitable for printing.
IBM launched the product in 1973, and on June 26th, the first barcode deal was made at a supermarket in Troy, Ohio.
The first product to use a bar code is a packet of Wrigley’s juicy fruit gum, which is currently on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of History in Washington. (Liu Chun)