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This week marks the 60th birthday of the first patent filing for a technology that is very close to our hearts here in the VDC AutoID practice: barcode. To most people, a barcode is nothing but a bunch of black and white lines on the products they purchase at the store, but for us—the AutoID professionals and enthusiasts of the world—the barcode is an efficient, elegant and cost-effective way of storing and accessing data that has stood the test of time.
In the technology world, 60 years is an eternity. Reflect briefly on the devices/ technologies that seemed cutting edge just 10 or 15 years ago, and we bet you will smile reminiscing about the simpler days of dial-up modems, Zack Morris-style cell phones and good old PDAs. Now consider that barcode existed for decades before all of these things, and that it is still alive and well today. In many ways, it is a notable achievement. While barcode is certainly a mature technology, we see a strong future ahead for the barcode market, thanks to its ongoing evolution and the development of vertical- and application-specific uses. VDC sees a other indicators of barcode’s vitality:
Some NFC and RFID evangelists claim these technologies will ultimately lead to the demise of the barcode. VDC does not expect that to happen, nor do we expect any major market shift away from barcode to occur anytime soon. Barcode has a lot of momentum and will be extremely difficult to displace: it is universally supported, highly cost-effective (from both a printing and hardware/solution perspective), familiar to consumers and enterprises and boasts 40 years of proven experience in retail—barcode was first tested by Kroger Supermarkets in 1972, 20 years after its invention. The “scanless”/contactless future NFC and RFID promise could very well become reality someday far from now, but for the time being, we expect barcode to remain dominant in most applications. Happy birthday, barcode…