Supermarket Scanner

Description
On 26 June 1974, the first installation of supermarket scanners entered service in a Marsh supermarket in Troy, Ohio. This Spectra Physics model A price scanner, is one of those first ten scanners. A package of Wrigley's chewing gum became the first purchase made with scanners that could read the new Uniform Product Code (UPC or barcode). Mounted within the unit a helium-neon laser projected a beam onto a rotating mirror and thence up through a glass plate on the top surface. The light reflected from the code label on the package and was detected by a photo-diode. A computerized cash register matched the signal from the photo-diode with information in a stored database to determine which product was being scanned.
Spectra Physics and NCR jointly developed the system, and provided the laser scanner and the computerized cash register, respectively. A group called the "Ad Hoc Committee of the Grocery Industry" developed the barcode itself. Organized in 1970 by the consulting firm McKinsey & Co., the Ad Hoc Committee consisted of senior executives of leading firms in the grocery industry. The coding system they devised had an enormous impact on a wide range of applications, most notably for retail sales and inventory control.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
scanner
laser scanner
date made
1974
maker
Spectra-Physics Scanning Systems, Inc.
Physical Description
steel (overall material)
glass (window material)
plastic (overall material)
aluminum (overall material)
copper (overall material)
rubber (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 30 in x 18 in x 12 in; 76.2 cm x 45.72 cm x 30.48 cm
used
United States: Ohio
ID Number
1994.0180.01
accession number
1994.0180
catalog number
1994.0180.01
serial number
006
subject
Laser
Business
See more items in
Work and Industry: Electricity
Cash and Credit Registers
Lasers
Energy & Power
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
from Spectra Physics Scanning Systems Incorporated
Related Publication
Alan Q. Morton. Packaging History: The Emergence of the Uniform Product Code (UPC) in the United States, 1970-75
Additional Media

Visitor Comments

5/7/2015 5:21:21 PM
buddy wright
What was the price of the scanned wrigleys gum?
9/18/2015 9:23:59 AM
Hal Wallace
A price of $1.39 is printed on the package we have (which is not the actual package that was scanned, by the way).
1/19/2016 12:13:59 AM
Jeffrey L:arck
My Dad, Robert Larck, Drove a local delivery truck for City Transfer & Storage Co. in Troy. Ohio. He Delivered the first scanner systen to the Marsh Store in Troy. I remember him coming home telling us about what it was going to do ... that eventually people would check out thier own items.
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