April 22 2016

The Unofficial Logo of Capitalism


No matter how many brands and product names come and go, the most consistent label on products is the barcode. Since the 1980s the barcode has been tremendously influential in the standardisation of consumer products. Patented in 1952, the barcode was an invention of Joe Woodland who was a graduate student at Drexel Institute of Technology in Philadelphia in the U.S. His colleague Bob Silver overheard a supermarket executive asking for a way to speed up stocktaking. He mentioned it to Woodland who took it upon him to come up with a solution. Woodland was inspired by Morse code, and once as he was sitting on Miami beach drew his fingers in the sand and came up with the idea that the strips could be thick or thin. The barcode has succeeded in becoming the unofficial logo of international trade.