The History of QR Codes

A QR code is essentially an enhanced version of the average barcode. However, they can hold roughly 350 times the amount of information that could be stored on a typical one dimensional barcode. Since QR codes can store information in two directions, they are considered a matrix type or 2D code. QR codes have been used in other countries, such as Japan, for many years, but are just now becoming popular in the United States. It is likely they will spread to worldwide everyday use over the next few years. The summary below provides an idea of the timeline of code creation.

1952 – The first patent is issued for a barcode type device to Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver. However, this was originally for a circular barcode which rarely saw any use.

1966 – The barcode sees its first commercial use, although lack of industry standard caused problems.

1970 – The Universal Grocery Products Identification Code (or UGPIC) was created to standardize the industry. The Monarch Marking company manufactures the first bar code reading equipment for retail use.

1973 – Over the next few years, the UGPIC was transformed into the UPC code which we all know today.

1974 – The first UPC scanner is installed in a supermarket in Ohio.

1981 – The United States Department of Defense begins using the code to identify all items made for the military.

1986 – Companies like FedEx began using barcode and handheld scanners to track packages.

1988 – Intermec Corporation creates the first 2D barcode.

1994 – The QR code is invented by the Denso Wave company to track the vehicle manufacturing process.

2000 – The first smartphone was released by Ericsson, the R380. At this point, it had much more limited capabilities than smartphones seen today.

2001 – Palm released the first phone to be capable of web browsing.

2010 – The first QR code scanner and reader applications are released for a variety of smartphone platforms in the US.

2011 – QR codes begin to gain prominence in America thanks to some large company campaigns such as Best Buy and Macy’s.

As you can see the timeline for the usage of QR codes is really just beginning. Who knows where they will take us in the next ten years. At this point, we can only wait and see. However, what is clear is that they are becoming more and more prominent with each passing year, which is why they could become the key to a successful marketing campaign for your business. Now is the time to stake your claim as a QR code marketer before your competitors have the chance.

Some additional information on the history of QR codes and barcodes can be found here:

History of QR Codes

From Barcodes to QR Codes

About QR Codes