40 Years of Supermarket Barcode Scanning

Marsh holds place of honor in history of GS1 barcode

From warehouses to small corner shops, workers and shoppers worldwide hear the familiar beep of the GS1 barcode as many as 5 billion times a day. Today, June 26th 2014 is the 40th anniversary of the first product to be scanned at a checkout with a GS1 barcode. Sharon Buchanan was the first cashier to scan a GS1 barcode at a Marsh Supermarket in Troy, Ohio (USA).


Juicy Fruit Mock Up The first barcoded item scanned was a 10-pack of Wrigley's Juicy Fruit gum and it cost 67 cents.

“Imagine if there was no barcode,” said Miguel Lopera, President and CEO of GS1, a neutral, global not-for-profit organisation based in Brussels, Belgium with member organisations in more than 110 countries that oversees most of the barcodes used in the world today. “Can you imagine the lines at the checkouts? Can you imagine how frustrated consumers would be? Just imagine what it would be like one day at a hyper market, a supermarket, if one day the scanner didn’t work and checkout clerks had to manually punch in the barcode on every item. From a business perspective, imagine how the barcode enables a little manufacturer in India to sell his product any place in the world because the label can be read in any country in any language.”

“Since its beginnings in the 1930s, Marsh has been on the forefront of change and growth in the supermarket industry,” said Tom O’Boyle, CEO and President of Marsh Supermarkets. “Our store in Ohio was near the NCR scan study and development facility and we worked closely together with them, IBM and Spectra Physics to bring the idea to fruition.  It seems quite unbelievable that a single event in Troy, Ohio could launch a technological revolution that touches businesses of all kinds around the world.”

“You think of how many scans are going through the checkout counter every day,” said Tim Smucker, Chairman of the Board of The J.M. Smucker Company and Vice Chairman and Chairman Emeritus of the GS1 Management Board. “It’s in the billions. That touches everybody’s life and improves the value of the shopping experience. I don’t think anything has had a greater impact on facilitating commerce around the world than the barcode.”