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Interesting US History
A Website Devoted to Interesting Events in U.S. History





June 26, 1974

The First Sale is Made Using a UPC Code

On this day in 1974, the UPC (Universal Product Code) was first used for an actual sale for the first time at a Marsh Supermarket in Troy, Ohio. The item sold was a 10-pack of Wrigley's chewing gum (the price was 67 cents). The UPC is a 12 digit code divided into two groups of 6. Each digit is represented by a series of seven bars designed in such a way to make each digit as different as possible from the others in order to increase the reliability.

The idea of an automated checkout system had been around since 1932 and a patent was granted for a bull's-eye style code in 1952. In the 1960's, railroads experimented with a barcode system for tracking railcars but it never caught on. The first practical system, the UPC code which is still in use today, was developed when a group of grocery trade groups fromed the Uniform Grocery Product Code Council along with consultants and other technology companies that included IBM, RCA, and several others.