Endowed Professor Investigates the Origins of Barcodes

Dec 06, 2023 - Views: 323

Rating: 4.8 - 50Votes

This holiday season, millions of Americans are predicted to spend over $950 billion on presents.

However, few will pause to consider the technological marvel that will enable those transactions: the barcode.

An exception is Jordan Frith, who just had a barcode inscribed on his left bicep. He is the author of the recently released book "Barcode" and the Pearce Professor of Professional Communication at Clemson University.

"I just kind of fell in love with barcodes as an object during my research," Frith remarked, claiming it to be his best-written book to date.

A professor delves into the history of the barcode

A professor delves into the history of the barcode

"Barcode" delves into the technology that has been connecting billions of physical things and digital databases for almost 50 years.

Frith's recent book, "Object Lessons," is a concise read that is packed with little morsels of barcode detail. It is published by Bloomsbury Academic. 

The idea is to take something seemingly ordinary, like a remote control, questionnaire, or egg, and turn it into easily understood takeaways about its cultural significance for a large audience.

In celebration of its November publication, Frith got its ISBN tattooed, just as he had promised inside the 134-page book.

"It's not fair to deceive my readers; I promised in the book that I would get a barcode tattoo," he declared.

The book follows the development of barcodes from the first product (a pack of Wrigley's gum, scanned with an official UPC in 1974) to the introduction of QR codes to replace paper menus during the COVID-19 epidemic. 

Frith examines instances where barcodes have changed society along the road. 

President George H.W. Bush's electoral prospects declined in 1992 as a result of a media blunder about the barcode.

Read more: New DL and RC Smart Cards with Chips and QR Codes

Rating: 4.8 - 50Votes



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