/ ˈbɑːr koʊd /
Universal Product Code
The special identification code printed as a set of vertical bars of differing widths on books, grocery products, and other merchandise. Used for rapid, error-free input in such facilities as libraries, hospitals, and grocery stores, bar codes represent binary information that can be read by an optical scanner. The coding can include numbers, letters, or a combination of the two; some codes include built-in error checking and can be read in either direction.
Code of a series of vertical bars printed on consumer product packages indicating price etc; SYN. Universal Product Code.
Pattern of bars and spaces that can be read by a computer. Bar codes are widely used in retailing, industrial distribution, and public libraries. The code is read by a scanning device; the computer determines the code from the widths of the bars and spaces.
The technique was patented 1949 but became popular only in 1973, when the food industry in North America adopted the Universal Product Code system.