Bar Code Definition/Meaning:
A printed machine-readable code that consists of parallel bars of
varied width and spacing. The application most commonly observed is the coding
on food and other goods that is read at the checkout and translated into a line
of print on the bill showing product and cost. The information is also used to
update stock records and provide sales statistics.
In the US the code used for
this purpose is the Universal Product Code (UPC) and in Europe it is the
European Article Numbering (EAN) code. The UPC decodes initially into two
five-digit numbers. The first five identify the supplier and the next five are
the item number within that supplier's range of goods. From this information the
checkout terminal can access the details to be printed on the bill. The EAN code
has a two-digit number to indicate country of origin, then the two five-digit
numbers, followed by a check digit. The EAN arrangement simplifies the
allocation of codes to suppliers. Only the two-digit code and the format need to
be agreed internationally.
Other codes are used for shop-floor data collection, library systems, and
monitoring the circulation of confidential documents. The advantage of bar codes
is that they can be produced and read by relatively simple equipment. Codes used
for these purposes are Code 39, Codabar, and "2 of 5".