Bar-Code Co-Inventor Norman Woodland Dies

Norman-Joseph-Woodland

Norman Joseph woodland dies at the age of 91 due to the effect of Alzheimer’s disease on Sunday. He was the co-inventor of bar-code along Bernard Silver who died in 1963. Woodland has earned a mechanical engineer degree but dropped out from his graduate school to work on bar code idea.

In 1999, he told Smithsonian magazine (according to the New York Times) how he came up with the bar-code:

“What I’m going to tell you sounds like a fairy tale. I poked my four fingers into the sand and for whatever reason — I didn’t know — I pulled my hand toward me and drew four lines. I said: Golly! Now I have four lines, and they could be wide lines and narrow lines instead of dots and dashes.”

Mr Woodland's original 1952 patent for the bar code circular allowing it to be scanned from any direction.
Mr Woodland’s original 1952 patent for the bar code circular allowing it to be scanned from any direction.

They both submitted their patent for the bar-code which was more like a bull’s eye. The Patent issued in 1952. They sold their patent for $15000.

In the early 1970s, Mr. Woodland moved to Raleigh to join a team at IBM’s Research Triangle Park, N.C., facility.

The team developed a bar-code-reading laser scanner system in response to demand from grocers’ desires to automate and speed checkout while also cutting handling and inventory management costs.

In 1992, Woodland, was awarded the National Medal for Technology and Innovation, the highest U.S. honor for technological achievement, by President George H.W. Bush.

He took retirement in the year 1987 from IBM.

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