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bill.selmeier's blog

Where Did the Mirrored Bars for the Barcode Symbol on Aluminum Cans Come From?

After the announcement of the IBM 3660 U.P.C. Barcode Scanning System on October 11, 1973 and through 1974 one of my responsibilities was to encourage the Source Marking of the symbol. One of several activities to accomplish this was a series of Seminars for Grocery Manufacturers, and people in the Printing and Packaging industries designed to reduce the fear of problems with the tightly prescribed definitions for the edges of bars, etc. At the same time we could point out other significant parts of the complete Symbol Specification that might not be getting the attention it needed. These seminars were very popular. Our briefing room which might handle 6 to 12 people for a Grocery Retailer briefing would be reconfigured classroom style and used to handle 30 - 40 Manufacturer Packaging related attendees.

One of the specification parts sometimes overlooked was the color guidance near the back of the book. Grocery scanners being Helium-Neon lasers were red light. Users were counseled to view symbols under a Kodak Wratten #26 filter. We had been shown red bars on a white milk carton and black bars on a green package of gum. Red on white will look all white and black on green looks all black in red light.

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