The development of the bar code, the now-ubiquitous set of lines used to hold consumer product information, was far from straightforward. The New York Times has published an obituary for N. Joseph Woodland, who created the original code in 1947 as a visual representation of Morse Code. Woodland, who passed on at age 91 last Sunday, started his engineering career with a system for efficiently encoding elevator music, but his father forbade him from entering what he called the mob-owned elevator business. From there, Woodland created a system of circles that would also encode information — this time for supermarket products. Though his concept didn't catch on until years later, the full, fascinating story about a modest but influential piece of tech is over at the Times.
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