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Der Barcode wurde gestern 40 Jahre alt! Herzlichen Glückwunsch, graphische Ikone des standardisierten Konform-Konsumerismus!
Up until [the 70s], the closest approximation of a feasible barcode was a target-shaped graphic with concentric circles of varying thicknesses carrying the requisite information. The round shape was elegant in its way, but presented serious issues for visibility and printing. Laurer flattened this design out into a neat rectangle, and built both the code and the physical reader needed to implement it.
So it came to pass that early the morning of June 26, 1974, in scenic Troy, Ohio, the first UPC was scanned in a grocery store (probably without that satisfying bleep). The first item to earn use by this complex and powerful new system? Juicy Fruit chewing gum.