Bernard Silver

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Bernard Silver
BornSeptember 21, 1924
DiedAugust 28, 1963 (aged 38)
Burial placeRoosevelt Memorial Park, Trevose, Bucks County, Pennsylvania
Alma materDrexel University
Known forCo-inventor of the barcode
SpousePhyllis Silver
ChildrenBarry Silver, Ronald Silver
HonoursNational Inventors Hall of Fame Inductee

Bernard Silver (September 21, 1924 – August 28, 1963) was an early developer of barcode technology alongside Norman Joseph Woodland.

Silver earned his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the Drexel Institute of Technology in 1947.[1] 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.[2] Silver and Woodland filed a patent for their system on October 20, 1949.[3] U.S. patent 2,612,994 was granted on October 7, 1952.[4] "The two men eventually sold their patent to Philco for $15,000 — all they ever made from their invention."[5]

During his career Silver served as a physics instructor at Drexel and as vice-president of Electro Nite Inc.[6] He died August 28, 1963, of bronchopneumonia due to acute myelogenous leukemia[7] at the age of 38.[6][8] In 2011 Silver, alongside Woodland, was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.[9]

Google featured a doodle of their logo as a barcode to recognize the anniversary of Bernard Silver at October 7, 2009.[10]


  1. ^ "Dr. Joseph Woodland '47 (MEM), Hon. '98 Alumni". Drexel University. Retrieved 2009-10-07.
  2. ^ Seideman, Tony. "Barcodes Sweep the World". Wonders of Modern Technology. Archived from the original on 2016-09-03. Retrieved 2009-10-07.
  3. ^ US 2612994, Silver, Bernard & Woodland, Norman Joseph, "Classifying Apparatus and Method", published October 20, 1949, issued October 7, 1952. 
  4. ^ Than, Ker (October 7, 2009). "Bar Code: Its Origins, Why It's on Google & What's Next". National Geographic News. Archived from the original on October 9, 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-07.
  5. ^ Fox, Margalit (13 December 2012). "N. Joseph Woodland, Inventor of the Bar Code, Dies at 91". The New York Times.
  6. ^ a b "Bernard Silver". The New York Times. August 30, 1963. p. 21.
  7. ^ "Bernard Silver in the Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963". Retrieved 2015-02-22.
  8. ^ Adams, Russ (March 9, 2009). "A Short History Of Bar Code". BarCode 1. Retrieved 2010-05-25.
  9. ^ "Inventor Profile: Bernard Silver". National Inventors Hall of Fame. 2011. Archived from the original on 2016-09-16. Retrieved 2015-01-04.
  10. ^ "Bar code: invention history behind new Google doodle". Telegraph. Retrieved 2016-11-03.