... all bars hold
There is one simple graphic display which affects each of us every day. It goes unnoticed and ignored by most of us, unless it is printed wrong. No, it is not the postal zip code, but you are partially correct. The term is bar code, but that doesn't pertain to an unwritten code among bartenders to judge when a patron has had too much too drink.
The first code was originated by two men at Drexel University of Technology because of a request from a Philadelphia grocer and owner of a food chain. He asked if some system could be devised to speed up the itemizing total of every grocery order at the checkout. Two Drexel professors, Joe Woodland and Bernard Silver went to work on the problem. They came up with a series of concentric circles, similar to a bulls eye. In October, 1949, they filed for a patent. It was issued in 1952. Why it took so long makes one curious. This proved to be not the answer. Back to the drawing board.
Logicon Company and George Laurer went to work on the problem and developed the first bar code for the Universal Grocery Product Identification Code, but it was McKinsey & Company who defined a numeric format. The bar code for retail use was used first by Wrigley Gum in 1973.
It is a simple idea. On retail items you'll note that it is a group of thin and thick vertical lines. These identify the product and the price, but if the product goes on sale that change must be programmed into the cash register. Those machines are not like the registers used when we were growing older every day. You remember those, now archaic, behemoths on which one had to punch a key for each digit of the price and another key for the total of the sale.
However, pity the guy who has to work the night before the sale to reprogram the price of every sale item. Sure, those new machines are smart when they read the bar code and, in an instant, come up with the price and the total while printing the price with only a simple beep. I do have sympathy for the clerk in a supermarket who must go home with a constant string of beeps resounding in his/her head, but that clerk can be thankful that he/she had to just move the grocery item over the electric eye reader and make sure the machine reads the item, along with the price.
This Universal Grocery Product Identifier Code (UGPIC) was written by Logicon, Inc., Monarch Marking in 1970. It was used first by Wrigley's Gum in 1973. Similar to this is the system written by the U.S.Postal Service to read your zip code and speed up your mail service. If you use the nine number zip code, it can define your building. Use the nine number version for faster service and leave room enough at the bottom of your addressed envelopes to permit the zip code printer to be used. This system is a little different from that used for other items.
One version is a set of vertical lines. The tall ones are one eighth of an inch and the short ones are less than a sixteenth of an inch, although those sizes can vary. This system uses lines above a baseline, but there is a variation featuring lines above and below a baseline. If you look closely, you'll note one variation in which the short lines are composed of three dots and the tall ones are composed of seven dots.
Frankly, Scarlet, I don't know why they employ both systems, unless the second one uses less ink. Each system makes a scan by an OCR (Optical Code Reader). On request from the USPS: Please leave room enough at the bottom of your mail address area for printing a zip code, especially on post cards. If you don't, the USPS has to print a separate label to paste over your "Wish you were here."
If you are looking for something to do, try to solve the code on your mail. I can give you a tip when reading your zip code, the vertical bar at each end is called a framer. When solving your zip code, ignore each framer. Many times your zip code is also printed in numerals on some mail. You can work from that to crack their code. Have fun.