Barcode Information

Barcodes are typically found on the back of most packaging containers, books, and even airline tickets and coupons.

The two most common barcode formats are the EAN, or International Article Numbering, and UPC, or Universal Product Code.

The Uniform Code Council headquartered in New Jersey, USA, manages the format and allocation of all UPC barcodes while the International Article Numbering Association headquartered in Brussels, Belgium, manages the EAN barcodes. EAN used to stand for European Article Numbering, but because the code is now used worldwide, the name was changed to the International Article Numbering Association

History

Wallace Flint proposed an automated checkout system in 1932 using punched cards. Bernard Silver and Norman Joseph Woodland developed a bull's-eye style code and patented it (US patent 2612994, Norman J. Woodland and Bernard Silver, "Classifying Apparatus and Method", issued October 7, 1952). In the 1960s, railroads experimented with a multicolor barcode for tracking railcars, but they eventually abandoned it.

A group of grocery industry trade associations formed the Uniform Grocery Product Code Council which with consultants Larry Russell and Tom Wilson of McKinsey & Company, defined the numerical format of the Uniform Product Code. Technology firms including Charegon, IBM, Litton-Zellweger, Pitney Bowes-Alpex, Plessey-Anker, RCA, Scanner Inc., Singer, and Dymo Industries/Data General proposed alternative symbol representations to the council. In the end the Symbol Selection Committee chose to slightly modify, changing the font in the human readable area, the IBM proposal designed by George J. Laurer, pictured.

The first UPC marked item ever scanned at a retail checkout (Marsh's supermarket in Troy, Ohio) was at 8:01 a.m. on June 26, 1974, and was a 10-pack (50 sticks) of Wrigley's Juicy Fruit chewing gum.The shopper was Clyde Dawson and cashier Sharon Buchanan made the first UPC scan. The cash register rang up 67 cents.The entire shopping cart also had barcoded items in it, but the gum was merely the first one picked up. This item went on display at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

-Wikipedia

 

 

UPC Information

The UPC code, designed in 1973, was the first common product barcode. The primary version of UPC is actually a 13 digit code: 10 digits to represent the individual product, an 11 digit that acts as a check code, and two extra digits that are used to catalog items within a system. These latter two digits are not printed in below the barcode in numeric form, but only appear when the code is scanned with a barcode reader. Because of this, UPC codes is often described and thought of as being an 11 or 12 digit code. There are several variants of UPC including the common UPC-E, shown below, which encodes the 13 digits of UPC in a much smaller space for use smaller product packaging.

 

 

EAN Information

EAN is the European version of the UPC barcode, designed in 1976. Like UPC, the EAN is a 13-digit code, but the code is displayed with all 13 numbers printed below it, often leading people to believe it has more digits than UPC. Ten digits are used for product identification, one as a check code, and two as a country code identifying the country where the product was stamped for retail. This was once necessary because unlike the UPC, it was designed to be used in many different countries. The two digit country identifier is now becoming obsolete. EAN also has a smaller varient, the EAN-8, used on smaller packaging.

 

 

A Comparison between UPC and EAN

Now that we know a little bit about UPC and EAN barcodes, we can see that they are fundamentally identical. They both contain the same amount of digits when encoded the same way, and the two digit country code contained in EAN numbers are becoming abandoned.

UPC to EAN Comparison

If we overlay a UPC and an EAN, we can see that the actual barcode graphic is identical, even though the numbers shown at the bottom are slightly different.

Since 2005, all barcode scanners around the world are required to read both EAN and UPC codes. This means that there are no more compatibility issues between the two. The only difference now is purely visual; what the actual barcodes look like to us. The content of the codes themselves are identical.

 

 

EAN Country Codes

EAN Prefix Region
00 to 13U.S.A. and Canada
20 to 29In-store Numbers
30 to 37France
380Bulgaria
383Slovenia
385Croatia
387Bosnia-Herzegovina
400 to 440Germany
45 + 49Japan
460 to 469Russian Federation
471Taiwan
474Estonia
475Latvia
476Azerbaijan
477Lithuania
478Uzbekistan
479Sri Lanka
480Philippines
481Belarus
482Ukraine
484Moldova
485Armenia
486Georgia
487Kazakhstan
489Hong Kong (China)
50United Kingdom (U.K.)
520Greece
528Lebanon
529Cyprus
531Macedonia
535Malta
539Ireland
54Belgium and Luxembourg
560Portugal
569Iceland
57Denmark
590Poland
594Romania
599Hungary
600 - 601South Africa
609Mauritius
611Morocco
613Algeria
616Kenya
619Tunisia
621Syria
622Egypt
625Jordan
626Iran
628Saudi Arabia
64Finland
690 - 692China
70Norway
729Israel
73Sweden
740Guatemala
741El Salvador
742Honduras
743Nicaragua
744Costa Rica
745Panama
746Dominican Republic
750Mexico
759Venezuela
76Switzerland and Liechtenstein
770Colombia
773Uruguay
775Peru
777Bolivia
779Argentina
780Chile
784Paraguay
786Ecuador
789Brazil
80 - 83Italy
84Spain
850Cuba
858Slovakia
859Czech Republic
860Yugoslavia
867Korea, North
869Turkey
87Netherlands
880Korea, South
885Thailand
888Singapore
890India
893Vietnam
899Indonesia
90 - 91Austria
93Australia
94New Zealand
955Malaysia
958Macau (China)
977Periodicals (ISSN)
978 - 979Books (ISBN)
980Refund Receipts
99Coupons

 

 

Different Types of Codes

Example Characters Length Comments
Codabar
Codabar example
Numbers and symbols: "- : . $ / + " Variable This older code is often used in librarys and blood banks. No checksum is required.
Code 11
Code11 Barcode Example
Numbers Only Variable Checksum is required.
Code 128
Code128 Barcode Example
All ASCII characters Variable This barcode is widely used and is excellent for many applications. Checksum is required.
Code 39
Code39 Barcode Example
Uppercase letters, numbers, space and "- . $ / + %" Variable This barcode is also widely used for many applications. Checksum is optional.
Extended Code 39
Extended Code39 Example
All ASCII characters Variable More robust than standard Code 39, but uses pairs of characters to encode non-standard symbols; wasteful of space. Checksum is optional.
EAN-13
EAN Barcode Example
Numbers Only 12 + Checksum This is the most commonly used barcode system world wide for products. Checksum is required.
EAN-8
EAN-8 Barcode Example
Numbers Only 7 + Checksum This is a shorthand version of the EAN-13 barcode system. It's commonly used on smaller productes due to its smaller size. Checksum is required.
EAN Bookland
Numbers Only 12 + Checksum Special use of the EAN-13 symbol to encode ISBN number on books. Checksum is required.
UPC-A
UPC-A Barcode Example
Numbers Only 11 + Checksum This is the most commonly used barcode system for products in the US and Canada. Checksum is required.
UPC-E
UPC-E Barcode Example
Numbers Only 0 + 6 + Checksum This is a shorthand version of the standard UPC barcode. It's commonly used on smaller productes due to its smaller size, similar to the EAN-8 system. Checksum is required.
QR (QuickRead)
QR Code Example
All ASCII Characters Variable This two dimentional code provides robust error correction, allows for fast reading, and can be used to encode large amounts of data. Checksum is required.
MSI
MSI Barcode Example
Numbers Only Variable Commonly used on grocery store tags for internal management. Checksum is required.
Interleaved 2 of 5
Interleaved 2 of 5 Example
Numbers Only   Very compact encodes digits in pairs so total length must be even number of digits. Checksum is optional.
OPC
OPC Barcode Example
Numbers Only 9 + Checksum Special use of Interleaved 2 of 5 for marking retail optical products. Checksum is required.
SCC-14 (Shipping Container Code)
SCC-14 Barcode Example
Numbers Only 13 + Checksum Special use of Code 128 to mark shipping cartons containing UPC encoded products. Checksum is required.
EAN-128 EAN-128 Barcode Example All ASCII characters Variable Special use of Code 128 for data formats for commerce. Checksum is required.