History of QR Codes: Where did QR Codes come from?

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QR codes have recently been expanding throughout the United States targeting all aspects of marketing. Macy's released their all important backstage pass QR code recently in which the classic Macy's star contains a QR in the center that takes the scanner to information on fashion, discounts, and other information on the popular department store. This technology has expanded to more than just stores and businesses selling products; politicians are now throwing their specified QR code all over the place to help people learn more about their ideas and get their name out to the public.

Although these little barcodes have only increased in popularity as of lately, they have actually been around for well over a decade. They were created in 1994 by Denso Wave, a subsidiary of the Toyota car company. These codes were used to track car parts in Japan, much like a UPS package is tracked throughout its delivery process. There are actually other types of 2D barcodes, but the QR (quick response) code has become one of the most popular codes.

So that's where the QR code originally came from, but let's go back to the history of the original barcode:

History of Basic Bar Codes

In 1948, Bernard Silver made one of the first major steps towards the development of the barcode. For years, supermarkets and food chains knew that they needed a technology like the barcode, so in 1948, a president of a popular food chain went to the Drexel Institute of Technology to ask a dean to undertake this project to develop the technology. The dean did not take up the project, but Silver, who had overheard the proposal, did. For a full history of the history of barcodes and their effect on supermarkets see this link.

Use of Basic Bar Codes

  • One of the most important usages is the UPC which is used in stores everywhere for pricing and tracking of merchandise.
  • Used for the tracking of items, such as mail and packages
  • Barcodes are now popularly used on tickets which are scanned to allow someone to enter an event. I'm guessing this allowed for people to buy and print out tickets online, like you can do with movie tickets.

Marketing Bar Codes into 2D QR Codes

A regular barcode that you find on an item, gives only 1 dimension of information. A scanner reads the data along one edge of the barcode, the horizontal edge. 2D barcodes emerged because there was a need to place more information into the barcode. 2D barcodes first emerged as stacked barcodes, and then evolved to a matrix type of barcode which is a QR barcode. The matrix setup of the QR code allows for information to be read from both sides of the barcode (vertically and horizontally). Therefore, a QR code allows for more information to be given in a smaller amount of space then a regular barcode.

(If I've explained this poorly, please check out this link: http://www.denso-wave.com/qrcode/aboutqr-e.html)

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