Norman Joseph Woodland dies: Inventor of the bar code dead at 91

Man who revolutionized the checkout counter with invention of the bar code – scanned five-billion times a day – dies, 91Norman Joseph Woodland died on Sunday in his New Jersey home after suffering Alzheimer's diseaseOriginal 1952 patent for bar code favoured a circle – allowing scan from any directionPatent sold for $15,000 making the most ever earned by Woodland or co-inventor

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UPDATED:

11:01 GMT, 14 December 2012

Modern day inventor: N. Joseph Woodland, co-inventor with Bernard Silver of the bar code that labels nearly every product in stores today, died on Sunday at the age of 91

Modern day inventor: N. Joseph Woodland, co-inventor with Bernard Silver of the bar code that labels nearly every product in stores today, died on Sunday at the age of 91

Scanned more than five million times a day, instantaneously encoding product data while boosting work production, it was with Norman Joseph Woodland's fingers in the sand that he first invented the revolutionizing bar code.

Mr Woodland, deemed co-inventor of the what was originally a circular emblem of lines that would later become responsible for nearly every product labeling in stores, died on Sunday at the age of 91.

Suffering the effect Alzheimer's disease and complications of his advanced age in his home in Edgewater, New Jersey, his daughter, Susan Woodland of New York, announced his death on Thursday.

As an undergraduate student at what's now called Drexel University in Philadelphia, it was after later co-inventor Bernard Silver overheard a grocery-store executive's pleas to the engineering school's dean for students for help.

His request was an invention that would quickly capture product information at checkout that both were inspired, according to Susan Woodland.

Woodland notably had worked on the Manhattan Project, the U.S. military's atomic bomb development team.

After having already earned a mechanical engineering degree, Woodland dropped out of graduate school to work on the bar code idea. He stole away to spend time with his grandfather in Miami to focus on developing a code that could symbolically capture details about an item, Susan Woodland.

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Patented: Mr Woodland's original 1952 patent for the bar code, pictured left, was circular allowing it to be scanned from any direction while right, a device capable of reading it is seen

Modern day: IBM promoted a rectangular barcode to the inventors' circular version, leading to a standard for universal product code, or UPC, technology

Modernized: IBM promoted a rectangular barcode to the inventors' circular version, leading to a standard for universal product code, or UPC, technology

HISTORY OF THE BAR CODEIdea for the code was inspired after Norman Joseph Woodland learned Morse code in Boy Scouts
Idea for bars came while sitting on a beach in Miami and Mr Woodland running his fingers in the sand
The original patented idea favoured a circular design – allowing its scan from any direction
Patent sold for $15,000, making the most Woodland and co-inventor Bernard Silver ever earned from it
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Bar Code Scanner

Solution: Appealing to grocers' desires to speed up checkout, IBM developed a bar-code-reading laser scanner system, one right, capable of reading them at little expense modernizing the code into a universal symbol, seen tattooed left

Challenge: A QR Code, developed in Japan, is growing in competition to the original UPC code while this one can be scanned using cell phones

Challenge: A QR Code, developed in Japan, is growing in competition to the original UPC code while this one can be scanned using cell phones

IBM promoted a rectangular barcode that led to a standard for universal product code technology.

The first product sold using a UPC scan was a 67-cent package of Wrigley's chewing gum at a supermarket in Troy, Ohio, in June 1974, according to GS1 US, the American affiliate of the global standard-setting UPC body.

Today, about 5 billion products are scanned and tracked worldwide every day.

Woodland was born Sept 6, 1921, in Atlantic City, N.J.

Woodland and Microsoft founder Bill Gates were among those honored at the White House in 1992 for their achievements to technology, four months after President George H.W. Bush appeared amazed at a demonstration of a grocery checkout machine.