The barcode, as we know it today, turned 40 this week. On 3 April 1973 it was decided by leading grocers in the US that IBM’s Universal Product Code (UPC) design (that’s the real name for the black and white striped rectangle you see on just about every marketable product) would become the industry standard.
Chosen for its linear design, IBM’s UPC is printed in the same direction of the stripes so that any smeared or extra ink will only make the code longer and it will stay readable by a scanner.
In celebration of the fiddly striped rectangle that has to be fitted onto even the slickest of packaging design, here is our selection of some of the more inventive barcodes from the past four decades.
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