50 Years of Transforming Tomorrow

Fifty years ago, on April 3, 1973, global industry agreed on a single standard to identify products at checkout, and the GS1 barcode was born.

50 Years Ago, the GS1 Barcode Was Created to Transform Shopping and Empower More Reliable and Resilient Supply Chains Across the Globe

There is a reason the BBC has called the barcode “one of the 50 things that made the modern economy”. Since its creation, this humble— yet powerful— symbol now appears on over one billion products, and the sound of the “beep” is instantly recognizable around the world.

The barcode was born in 1973 when industry leaders came together to transform the way we shop. From that point forward, a simple scan at the checkout connected a physical product to its unique digital identity—and this information could be shared in stores and throughout the supply chain.

The very first scan of the barcode happened the next year when a pack of Juicy Fruit gum was scanned at a Marsh Supermarket in Troy, Ohio. Also in 1974, Canada was the second country in the world to introduce the barcode, when a Steinberg grocery store in Dorval, Quebec scanned the very first barcode here. Since then, GS1 standards have been enabling more reliable supply chains across the globe.

Celebrating 50 Years

Trusted Strategic Partner

To mark this milestone, GS1 Member Organizations (MOs) around the world are joining together for a global campaign celebrating the barcode.

As a Member Organization of GS1, GS1 Canada is proud to be part of this celebration. And we have much to celebrate!

As a neutral, not-for-profit association, GS1 Canada has been collaborating with Canadian industry, sector and association leaders for almost 25 years to lead and enable best in class supply chain. From building ECCnet Registry, Canada’s largest bilingual product registry, to supporting business needs through non-proprietary Industry Managed Solutions, together we've achieved many milestones on our journey.

Looking to the Future

The 50th Anniversary campaign represents a year-long opportunity to celebrate this exciting time in our history and highlight other initiatives we have planned throughout the year, including:

Barcodes & Beyond Podcast

Introducing Barcodes & Beyond, GS1 Canada’s new podcast series. The first season is all about small business in Canada, featuring small business owners and industry experts sharing their experiences, insights and expertise.

Listen now

Global Industry's Transition to Two-Dimensional (2D) Barcodes

Since the introduction of the first barcode 50 years ago, the need for more detailed product information has increased significantly. Traditional linear barcodes, such as UPCs, have a limited capacity to hold product information, but the next generation of 2D barcodes have significantly more capacity to support existing and emerging business needs related to consumer demand, sustainability and waste reduction, product traceability, and patient safety.

Read more

Explore Our History

As we commemorate this historic occasion, please scroll through to see the significant global and Canadian milestones from the past 50 years.