Alan Haberman died aged nearly 82 last month. Why was that so important for a blog like this one? Well he was a supermarket executive in the 70s, but not just any old supermarket executive. He was on the committee that decided on the use of the now iconic bar code to identify products in stores amongst many other things. It is said that he may have been the driving force behind this decision. It wasn’t an easy choice though as many other ideas from random dots to bullseye style targets had been proposed.
The idea of optical recognition had been around for years but the equipment was nowhere near advanced enough until the 70s. The decision to unify around the barcode was made in 1973 and was first used in a supermarket in 1974. The purpose of this post is to let you know what the first ever item to have its barcode scanned to register a sale in a supermarket was a packet of chewing gum in Ohio in 1974. I bet that you didn’t know that did you?