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George Laurer, Who Developed the Bar Code, Is Dead at 94

The New York Times – “George J. Laurer, whose design of the ubiquitous vertically striped bar code sped supermarket checkout lines, parcel deliveries and assembly lines and even transformed human beings, including airline passengers and hospital patients, into traceable inventory items, died on Dec. 5 at his home in Wendell, N.C., near Raleigh. He was 94…The Universal Product Code made its official debut in 1974 when a scanner registered 67 cents for a 10-pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit at a Marsh supermarket in Troy, Ohio. (The package of gum is now at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.) “It was cheap and it was needed,” Mr. Laurer told The New York Times in 2009. “And it is reliable.” The concept that replaced price tags and revolutionized commerce had evolved over several decades, the result of fluky coincidences and the expertise of several collaborators…The bar code sped checkout lines by some 40 percent, eliminated labor-intensive placement of price tags on every product, and resulted in fewer register errors and more efficient inventory controls. But Mr. Laurer often said that he was amazed at how omnipresent it became…”

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