ABOUT THIS BOOK
The Universal Product Code (U.P.C.)—a small rectangle of black and white bars—adorns virtually every retail item we purchase. Yet twenty-five years ago, the U.P.C. was a mere kernel of an idea shared by a small cadre of manufacturing and chain store executives. Here Stephen Brown, the legal counsel of those pioneering executives, traces its origin and evolution.
The development of the U.P.C. illustrates the process of setting industry standards without government intervention and shows how systems of complementary technologies evolve. The economic consequences of the U.P.C. are investigated in an introduction by Professor John T. Dunlop and Jan Rivkin.
Revolution at the Checkout Counter is an absolute must for both business and food watchers. It deserves to be a classic. Stephen A. Brown, a Virginia attorney, was himself part of the plot, legally advising the pioneering grocery executives, many of whom he sketches. The tale he tells is riveting. He plots the people and companies who believed 30 years ago that there might be a value in having a universal product code to help data processing in the food trade… This is a wonderful book, telling an astonishing story clearly. With the bar code, informatics came of age. Even the introduction by two Harvard Business School academics is a gem.
-- Tim Lang Times Higher Education Supplement
The Universal Product Code—the familiar bar code in consumer products—is one of the most pervasive technologies of the late twentieth century. This excellent book is the first substantial history of this important innovation… The implementation of the bar code across the grocery manufacturing and retail industry was a phenomenal achievement of co-ordination and promotion. The project faced the network externalities that all technological systems have to overcome, from Edison’s electric light to the World Wide Web… This book is a very welcome addition to the literature of business history and the history of computing.
-- Martin Campbell-Kelly Business History [UK]
[A] comprehensive insider’s account of the Universal Product Code.
-- Smithsonian Magazine