O, FOR HISTORY: The Bar Code

From Andrew Hershner, Dayton historian.

The Barcode made it’s debut in Troy 48 years ago this month!

The Marsh Supermarket in the Sherwood Centre at 982 N Market St was the test site for the new retail technology. Collaborators included NCR (which had a scanning research facility near Troy), Hobart Industries (a leader in the development of meat and produce scales that produced labels to scan) and Spectra Physics of Springfield (developer of the scanner ray).

On June 26th 1974 at 8:01AM Marsh cashier Sharon Buchanan made history when she sold a 10-pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum by scanning its barcode. The gum was sold to Marsh executive Clyde Dawson. When Buchanan showed up for work early that morning she noticed a larger-than-normal group of people she thought were patrons.
“Our customers didn’t know what was going on,” she said. “And we didn’t either.”
Throughout the previous night, technicians and engineers had installed a barcode scanner prototype in her checkout lane. The group stuck around to give her some cursory training and to see if the barcode scanner system would work.

The barcoded package of gum, which cost 67 cents, is on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

NCR’s Model 255 cash register included a scanner and a master computer that stored product information. Labels with UPC codes were printed and attached to products. This technology enabled stores to increase accuracy in the checkout process, control inventory and print a detailed receipt with a product description and price.

Marsh employee Laura Myers, who was 17 at the time working her first job as a cashier at Marsh in 1974, recalls the experience of introducing scanning technology as both exciting and a bit stressful.

“It was really nerve-wracking at the time,” she recalled of the training and efforts to help customers understand how the new technology worked. “I don’t think anyone realized how big a deal it truly was. No one knew we were making history”

First Photo: Marsh cashier Sharon Buchanan

Second and third photo: NCR 255 scanner

About Wright Flyer Guy

Darin is a single adoptive father, a teacher, playwright, and musical theatre director from Kettering, Ohio.
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