A group of grocery industry trade associations formed the Uniform Grocery Product Code Council which with consultants Larry Russell and Tom Wilson of McKinsey & Company, defined the numerical format of the Uniform Product Code.
Technology firms including Charegon, IBM, Litton-Zellweger, Pitney Bowes-Alpex, Plessey-Anker, RCA, Scanner Inc., Singer, and Dymo Industries/Data General proposed alternative symbol representations to the council.
In the end the Symbol Selection Committee chose the IBM proposal designed by George J. Laurer.
Laurer went on to develop the Universal Product Code in 1973.
The first UPC marked item ever scanned at a retail checkout was scanned at Marsh’s supermarket in Troy, Ohio, at 8:01 a.m. on June 26, 1974, when customer Clyde Dawson walked up to cashier Sharon Buchanan.
Clyde handed Sharon a 10-pack (50 sticks) of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit chewing gum.
Sharon then made the first ever UPC scan of a product.
The NCR cash register rang up 67 cents.
Clyde’s entire shopping cart also had barcoded items in it, but the gum was merely the first one picked up.
Today, this pack of Juicy Fruit gum is on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. (see photo at beginning of this article)
George Laurer went on to become a 36-year veteran of the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) before retiring in June of 1987. George Laurer is the holder of 25 patents.
During his career, IBM recognized and rewarded him for many technical innovations. He received the prestigious “Raleigh, N.C. Inventor of the Year” award in 1976.
In 1980, Laurer was honored with IBM’s Corporate Technical Achievement award for his work on the Universal Product Code proposal that was issued in 1970 by McKinsey & Co. and Uniform Grocery Product Code Council, Inc.
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