Business: Long Wait

The UPC's slow start

The computer revolution began coming to supermarkets in the early '70s in the form of the UPC (Universal Product Code), the odd, stamp-size box of black bars and numbers printed on just about everything from soup cans to the covers of TIME magazines sold in the U.S. The UPC was to be the core of a system that would not only keep up-to-date records on inventories and prices, but also eliminate cash register errors, since check-out clerks would tot up a shopper's bill by merely passing the purchases over an optical scanner capable of "reading" the code....

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