George J. Laurer
George Joseph Laurer (born September 23, 1925 in New York, NY) developed the Universal Product Code, commonly known as the barcode, in 1973. As an engineer at IBM, he was asked to develop the pattern used for the Universal Product Code.
A 36-year veteran of the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) who retired in June 1987, George Laurer is the holder of 25 patents. He is also the author of 20 published Technical Disclosure Bulletins.
During his career, IBM recognized and rewarded him for many technical innovations. He received the prestigious “Raleigh, N.C. Inventor of the Year” award in 1976. In 1980, he was honored with IBM’s Corporate Technical Achievement award for his work on the Universal Product Code proposal that was issued in 1970 by McKinsey & Co. and Uniform Grocery Product Code Council, Inc.
Before joining IBM, he received the B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Maryland in 1951. He came to the University after having served in World War II and attending a technical school to learn radio and TV repair. Upon completion of his first year at the technical school, his instructor convinced him that he should not continue that course of study, but that he should go to college.
Today, Laurer lives in Wendell, North Carolina.
The Universal Product Code has bit patterns at the beginning, middle, and end of the barcode called "guard bars". Laurer is often asked about the resemblance of these guard bars to the coding of the numeral 6. Some people see the three sets of guard bars as encoding the number 666, which some fundamentalist Christians see as a sign of evil.
Laurer addresses this on his website:
- Answer- Yes, they do RESEMBLE the code for a six. An even parity 6 is:
- 1 module wide black bar 1 module wide white space 1 module wide black bar 4 module wide white space
- There is nothing sinister about this nor does it have anything to do with the Bible's "mark of the beast" (The New Testament, The Revelation, Chapter 13, paragraph 18). It is simply a coincidence like the fact that my first, middle, and last name all have 6 letters. There is no connection with an international money code either.
Published journal articles
- David Savir, George J. Laurer: "The Characteristics and Decodability of the Universal Product Code". IBM Systems Journal 14(1): 16-34 (1975)