What was the first consumer product to have bar codes?
According to a local radio station, it was Wrigley’s Gum, but they don’t say which one.
“Age is mind over matter; if you don’t mind, it don’t matter.” -Leroy “Satchel” Paige
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According to this site, http://www.adams1.com/pub/russadam/history.html , it was Wrigley’s gum (no variety specified).
Keep in mind that the “first” was a useless achievement, in that groceries would hardly install thousands of dollars worth of UPC readers to check out packs of gum. Until a large number of products could be scanned, making the system cost-efficient, there was no real reason to put the UPC’s on a package. Wrigley’s can be credited with having the foresight to back a winner, but they did not invent the idea.
I must admit I love the American stores where they have the machine that allows you to check a bar code and get the price.
But the thing I don’t like is that it may be convenient for the store but they should still have the price marked on the product and I must admit I still look at the prices that pop up on the cash register at checkout.
It’s not especially clear from that page in the link above, but I think they’re saying Wrigley’s gum was the first product to have a UPC mark printed on it by the manufacturer.
In the midwest there was a store chain called “Dolgin’s” which had their own bar codes. They placed their own stickers on the products which had the price (like a traditional price tag) plus a vertical stripe containing the bar code. I don’t know exactly when they began this, but they were definitely using them prior to 1974. The bars they used were considerably longer and more detailed-looking than a UPC bar; for all I know they may have encoded the actual text to be printed on the receipt as well as the price.
I’m sure other stores had their own versions of bar code labels also; Dolgin’s is just the one I remember specifically.