Engineering the Bar Code “Was Fun!”

(p. A13) If he had followed instructions from his boss, George Laurer might never have succeeded in designing the Universal Product Code.

In 1971, a supervisor at International Business Machines Corp. told the electrical engineer to devise a bar code based on previous models involving circular symbols resembling dart boards. While the boss was on vacation, Mr. Laurer concluded that little circles wouldn’t do, partly because smears of ink left by printing presses could scramble the code. Instead, he and others came up with a row of stripes, whose varying width and spacing conveyed a reliable code.

. . .

. . . , as he noted in the title of his memoir, “Engineering Was Fun!”

For the full obituary, see:

James R. Hagerty. “Bar Code Designer Defied Instructions.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, December 14, 2019): A13.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date Dec. 12, 2019 and has the title “George Laurer, Defying Instructions, Created Universal Bar Code.”)

Laurer’s memoir, mentioned above, is:

Laurer, George J. Engineering Was Fun! 3rd ed. Morrisville, NC: Lulu.com, 2012.

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