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UPC BarCodes

A barcode is an essential tool used for several purposes. It comes in different shapes and sizes. Barcodes can be found everywhere within your environment. You may have seen it on almost all the products you've purchased from your local shop. So, what is a Barcode?

What is UPC (Universal Product Code) Barcode?

UPC barcode is a tool that represents information encoded in a visual symbol, generated in a machine-readable structure. In most cases, UPC barcodes are used to identify different products digitally. Therefore, a UPC barcode allows you to scan and track items electronically. A typical UPC is made of a sequence of bars and numbers, which are electronically detectable and readable. Barcodes let you read and verify information – it differentiates between several products. As such, a UPC barcode can easily be used within a shop to track, organize, and reorder products. It also helps the cashier easily calculate the bill of a customer, after which a receipt is generated for payment. A UPC barcode is the most common type of barcode used within Australia, the United States, Europe, Canada, and other countries.


In general, barcodes were first developed in the late 1940s. However, the first concrete use of UPC barcodes began in the 70s. It all started within a supermarket in Ohio. The first item to be scanned using a barcode was a gum created by Wrigley Company. Since then, this tool has been used across different businesses.

How it Works

For a UPC barcode to work effectively, each product must have its unique code. Each barcode consists of a 12-digit code, which is represented as alternating black and white bars of different widths. Every barcode is designed to be used with a digital scanner. A standard UPC barcode begins and finishes with a black bar, while white bars are sandwiched between the black bars. Below a UPC barcode, a sequence of numbers is written, which corresponds with the UPC. The numbers represent the same data contained within the barcode. Therefore, if a digital scanner refuses to work, the numbers underneath the barcode can be keyed into the computer manually, which brings out the item information.

12-digit UPC Barcode

The 12-digit UPC barcode consists of three different sets of numbers. Each group encodes different information. The first 6 numbers encode the product manufacturer's information. This segment of the barcode is given to the company by a regulatory agency. The next 5 numbers encode the product information. The manufacturer assigns this code to its products. The last digit is referred to as the check digit, calculated based on all other barcode numbers. Additionally, the check digit allows for validation of the barcode. However, a typical UPC barcode doesn't contain any price information. The price of a product is embedded within the product database of a store. Therefore, once a cashier scans a barcode, the barcode software automatically searches the database. Soon after, it presents the price and other required information.

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