Silver earned his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the Drexel Institute of Technology in 1947. In 1948 Silver paired with Norman Joseph Woodland to come up with an automated way to read product data after overhearing the conversation of a local grocery store president. Their initial results, a system of lines and circles based on Morse code, was replaced with a bulls eye pattern so it could be scanned from any direction. Silver and Woodland filed a patent for their system on October 20, 1949. The patent was granted on October 7, 1952 as patent No. 2,612,994. "The two men eventually sold their patent to Philco for $15,000 — all they ever made from their invention."
During his life Silver served as a physics instructor at Drexel and as vice-president of Electro Nite Inc. He died August 28, 1963 of bronchopneumonia due to acute myelogenous leukemia at the age of 38. In 2011 Silver, alongside Woodland, was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
- "Dr. Joseph Woodland '47 (MEM), Hon. '98 Alumni". Drexel University. Retrieved 2009-10-07.
- Seideman, Tony. "Barcodes Sweep the World". Wonders of Modern Technology. Retrieved 2009-10-07.
- US 2612994, Silver, Bernard & Norman Joseph Woodland, "Classifying Apparatus and Method", published October 20, 1949, issued October 7, 1952.
- Than, Ker (October 7, 2009). "Bar Code: Its Origins, Why It's on Google & What's Next". National Geographic News. Retrieved 2009-10-07.
- "Bernard Silver". The New York Times. August 30, 1963. p. 21.
- "Bernard Silver in the Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963". ancestry.com. Ancestry.com. Retrieved 2015-02-22.
- Adams, Russ (March 9, 2009). "A Short History Of Bar Code". BarCode 1. Retrieved 2010-05-25.
- "Inventor Profile: Bernard Silver". National Inventors Hall of Fame. 2011. Retrieved 2015-01-04.
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