Forty years ago this month a pack of Wrigley’s gum was scanned at a Marsh Supermarket in Troy, Ohio. This moment made history. It was the first commercial use of a bar code scanner in a retail environment. That idea of collecting a broad spectrum of information in one pass of a wand, a gun or a ring—or past a stationary reader—astounded people even several years after those technologies hit the market. But as scanning technologies evolved, so did the imagination of their inventors and users. Scanning went from a means of data collection, to marketing, to artistic expression—and eventually wound up in politics and as a potential means of saving the world from terrorism.
This gallery traces the journey of automatic data collection through a few of those key moments—to where we are today, when the term “scanning” is as out of focus to many people as their grandfather’s old 8mm movie projector. Enjoy.
(ED. NOTE: TO WATCH THESE VIDEOS, CLICK THE LINK IN THE TEXT BOX TO THE RIGHT OF THE MAIN IMAGE. NAVIGATE TO THE NEXT VIDEO USING THE ARROWS.)
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