Appolis, Inc.

Appolis Honors Bar Code’s Co-Inventor

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Morse Code Served as His Inspiration


Nearly every product in stores today carries a barcode co-invented by Norman Joseph Woodland.  These tiny little barcodes have boosted productivity in nearly every sector of commerce worldwide!

Norman Woodland notably worked on the Manhatten Project, the U.S. military’s atomic bomb development team.  Having completed a Mechanical Engineering degree and having learned Morse Code as a Boy Scout, he overheard a grocery store executive ask an engineering school dean to channel students into research on how product information could be captured at checkout.

One day while at the beach, he drew Morse dots and dashes as he sat on the beach and absentmindedly left his fingers in the sand where they traced a series of parallel lines.  “It was a moment of inspiration.”  He said, “instead of dots and dashes I can have thick and thin bars’!”

Norman Woodland and his fellow student at Drexel University in Pennsylvania, Bernard Silver submitted their patent in 1949.  The patent was issued in 1952, 60 years ago this fall.  While working at IBM, his team developed a bar-code-reading laser scanner system, cutting handling and inventory management costs.

The first product sold using a UPC (Universal Product Code) scan was a 67-cent package of Wrigley’s chewing gum at a supermarket in Troy, Ohio in June 1974, according to GS1 US, the American affiliate of the global standard setting UPC body.  Today about 5 billion products are scanned and tracked worldwide every day.

Woodland and Microsoft founder, Bill Gates were among those honored at the White House in 1992 for their achievements in technology, four months after the infamous moment President George H.W. Bush appeared amazed at a demonstration of a grocery checkout machine.

After 91 years, Norman Woodland passed away last week.  Appolis would like to honor Norman Woodland and celebrate his contributions to Supply Chain as we know it today!

The Appolis WithoutWire (WoW) Warehouse Management System uses real time updates to manage and enhance visibility of full supply chain logistics through pick, pack, ship, and robust lot tracking while leveraging the latest Microsoft .NET technologies. WoW has the ability to fully integrate with any ERP system through web/mobile based solutions. WoW increases productivity and customer satisfaction, while reducing costs and order fulfillment times to allow optimal supply chain decision making.

By  Steve Dwyer, Vice President

Appolis Inc

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