The bar code was invented by two guys from the Drexel Institute of Technology in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA. In 1948, graduate students Bernard Silver and Norman Joseph Woodland looked into a method of retrieving information during checkout at a cash register. At first, the two tried using ultraviolet-sensitive ink that could be read by, you guessed it, an ultraviolet light. However, this method was too expensive at the time and was therefore scrapped. Back to the drawing board! Finally in October of 1949, the patent was filed for what has now become known as the barcode. Their invention was described as "article classification...through the medium of identifying patterns" (i.e. the different sizes of bars). It was not until 1966 that the barcode system was implemented commercially. Unfortunately, there were no universal standards in place for barcodes at that time. Therefore, the UGPIC, or Universal Grocery Product Identification Code was established as a standard. This later led to the adoption of the UPC (Universal Product Code), which is still in use by the United States today.

note to self: must get a life. I am writing about barcodes for cripes sake! :O