barcode verification banner - in the history of barcodes

Barcode Verification in the History of Barcodes

In the digital age, where QR codes and contactless payments are commonplace, it’s easy to overlook the groundbreaking technology that paved the way for them: the humble barcode.

While seemingly simple, this series of lines has revolutionised industries from manufacturing to logistics.

Let's embark on a journey through the captivating history of barcodes, brought to you by Intermax Pty Ltd – your barcode solutions expert.

Juicy fruit first product barcode scanned - barcode verification in barcode history

The First Beep of Commerce

It was a warm June day in 1974 when a seemingly ordinary pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit Chewing Gum changed the course of retail history.

At Marsh’s Supermarket in Troy, Ohio, a Universal Product Code (UPC) Scanner by NCR Corp., a beacon of retail technology of its era, scanned the world’s first barcode. It might’ve seemed like an everyday action, but in that moment, an entire industry was born.

Setting the Standard: The Early Days

As industries quickly began adopting this innovative technology, it became clear that there needed to be a uniform standard. Enter the Uniform Code Commission (UCC) of the early 70s. They laid down the first barcode symbol verification guidelines, famously known as “Traditional Measurements”. Among the visual checks, it required:

  • The correct characters in the code.
  • An appropriate contrast.
  • Standardised widths for bars and spaces.
  • Adequate quiet zones.
  • A consistent barcode height.

Yet, as with all pioneering efforts, imperfections surfaced. Printing companies found that these guidelines sometimes flagged good barcodes as bad and vice versa. It was evident that a more sophisticated approach to barcode verification was essential.

leading organization that started the barcode foundation - ANSI, ISO, CEN logos

A New Era of Verification: The ANSI Intervention

The American National Standard Institute (ANSI), recognising the inadequacies, took on the monumental task of refining the barcode quality standards. After eight diligent years of research and discussions, in 1990, they unveiled the ANSI X3.182-1990 BarCode Print Quality Guideline.

The game-changer? This guideline based its checks on what the scanner electronically detected, rather than relying solely on human visuals.

Global Standardisation: Bridging Continents

By 1995, the world had realised the immense potential of barcodes. This led to the Committee for European Normalisation (CEN) and the International Standards Organisations (ISO) stepping onto the scene. They produced the EN 1635 & ISO/IEC 15416 documents, taking cues from ANSI’s approach but adding unique features to benefit both producers and users.


A significant shift was the grading system. Whereas the ANSI guidelines used alphabetic grading from A (being the best) to F (a fail), the ISO/IEC switched to a numeric grading system. This gave birth to grades like 3.5, 2.5, 1.5, 0.5, and 0. The decimal system not only made the grades more nuanced but also provided a clearer indication of barcode quality.

Wrapping Up!

From that initial beep in an Ohio supermarket to the international standards we see today, the journey of the barcode is a testament to innovation, collaboration, and the relentless pursuit of perfection. As Intermax, we are proud to be part of this legacy, providing top-notch barcode solutions for a myriad of industries across Australia.

Looking for the best in barcode solutions?

Think Intermax – Where history meets expertise!


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