Industry Comes Together to Celebrate 40 Years of the GS1 Barcode

TORONTO, June 25, 2014 /CNW/ - From warehouse loading docks to small retail shops, workers engaged in the global supply chain and shoppers worldwide will hear the familiar beep of the GS1 barcode as many as 5 billion times today. It's likely, though, that none of them will realize that each of those beeps marks a historic milestone in the life of the first tracking and traceability solution in the GS1 System of Standards.

June 26 marks the 40th anniversary of the first product to be scanned with a GS1 barcode (formerly known as the UPC code).

Forty years ago, on June 26, 1974, Sharon Buchanan was the first cashier to scan a GS1 barcode at a Marsh Supermarket in Troy, Ohio (USA) and Clyde Dawson, director of research and development for Marsh became the first person to purchase a product with a price labeled on the package.

That item was a 10-pack of Wrigley's Juicy Fruit gum. It cost 67 cents and its place in history has been preserved at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History in Washington

"Barcodes have served the industry remarkably well over the past 40 years," said N. Arthur Smith, President & CEO at GS1 Canada "but to me, this is a story about industry leadership and collaboration much more than a story about successful technology deployment. This is a story about competitors working together to create a standard solution that has become the planet's supply chain epicentre" shared Smith.

Barcodes are the most well known and universally recognized part of the GS1 System of Standards, the most widely used supply chain standards system in the world. The system is based on global standards and solutions to improve the efficiency and visibility of supply and demand chains globally and across sectors and was designed and implemented by GS1. GS1 tracking and tracing solutions allow companies worldwide to uniquely identify their physical things, such as trade items (products and services), assets, logistic units, shipments, physical locations, and logical things like a corporation or a service relationship between provider and recipient.

"The barcode was a true revolution. As an industry, we have come a long way since that first product was scanned at point-of-sale," said Peter Singer, President and CEO of Thomas, Large & Singer Inc.  "Barcodes are now part of our day to day processes, with millions of products scanned around the world every single day. The efficiencies and benefits achieved as a result of the barcode have allowed retail businesses to expand and reach their full potential and provided brand owners with reliable and actionable point of sale data. As an industry, we owe a lot to the barcode."

"You think of how many scans are going through the checkout counter every day," said Tim Smucker, Chairman of the Board of The J.M. Smucker Company and Vice Chairman and Chairman Emeritus of the GS1 Management Board. "It's in the billions. That touches everybody's life and improves the value of the shopping experience. I don't think anything has had a greater impact on facilitating commerce around the world than the barcode."

When this powerful identification system is combined with the GS1 barcode and other solutions in the GS1 System of Standards, companies, including those that compete against each other, are able to make a connection between these physical or logical things and the information the supply chain needs about them. When that connection is made, GS1 has accomplished its goal of creating one world of global commerce.

"The exciting part of this celebration is the future. We've really just begun to show the world what GS1's System of Standards can do in driving efficiency, traceability, sustainability and patient safety." said Smith.

Read more about GS1 40th Anniversary at

About GS1 Canada
GS1 Canada is a member of GS1, the world's leading supply chain standards organization. As a neutral, not-for-profit organization, GS1 Canada enables its more than 20,000 subscribers – organizations of all sizes from over 20 sectors across Canada – to enhance their efficiency and cost-effectiveness by adopting electronic supply chain best practices. Learn more at

Image with caption: "GS1 Canada (CNW Group/GS1 Canada)". Image available at:

SOURCE: GS1 Canada

For further information: Ryan Eickmeier, Senior Director, Marketing, Communications and Government Relations, GS1 Canada, (416) 994-2154


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