Cool Barcodes

I grew up with sticky labels and then barcodes. They weren’t actual relations, but near.  When my father started his own barcode business Codeway (the one remaining limited company of the triptych),  his new hobby (did you have an old one Dad?!) was standing in the kitchen of a weekend scanning the supermarket purchases with his scanners. That was in the days when you weren’t guaranteed to have a barcode sticker on everything.

Recently it dawned on me: my father has been trying to fix around half the world’s problems with barcodes for more than half my lifetime. From the NHS Blood Service to British Airways the little black stripes and spaces in between – that’s spaces not white stripes – have been saving lives and flying planes safely for years.

Well done Dad, and could you make a printer to do some pretty ones like this for Christmas please?

Posted on December 11, 2009, in Art, News and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. One on bottom left looks like the Seattle skyline as featured in the Frasier opener/closer. Perhaps your Dad has a more exciting and creative secret life?

  2. We can speculate…

    Perhaps he will pop on and say!

    Is that the skyline makes an appearance on Frasier?

    Now I have to come up with a post: when I was growing up my mum was not scanning barcodes but…

  3. I have learned to love barcodes; they mean that…you can skip the longer queues at the supermarket and proceed to the self-checkout (although it does bother me that in so doing I am probably contributing to someone losing his/her job); also, as the lowest of the low – namely a shop worker in a place where there is an arcane mix of barcodes+complicated in-house codes which need keying in+other products which have no assigned genus, my heart leaps when I get something which I can just swipe blithely across the barcode reader before turning my mind to the complexities of the credit card machine.

    • All very true. I think it mainly means 4 extra tills and at least one more member of staff to supervise their temperamental function. The “please remove item in the bagging area” override must be their most pressing task. Grrr.

      • “unexpected item in bagging area” followed by machine total lock down sends me into full rage. But today there was a moment of kindness when I was buying some prosecco at the self check out and the lady came to remove the security tag and double bagged the bottles for me. I told her I’d only paid my 5p for one plastic bag (sorry no room in my rucksack with laptop etc and no buggy to sling stuff under) and she told me that it was only a plastic bag and not to worry….

  4. Prosecco \o/

    Bellini anyone?

    Where is the pater’s comment on a blog clearly designed for his attention…

  5. Peeling off Tesco labels is in the past except for reduced price stickers on flowers.

    A favourite charade at conferences was to kill off volunteers by transfusing the wrong blood. All for the sake of a barcode or two to match the patient to a blood bag snatched from the fridge, and sound the alarm before it was too late.

    When it comes to giving blood, I’m in the Hancock camp.

    On 22 Dec the GP hand delivered a note urging action. 14 hours later I took the collection of blood test requests I’ve been hoarding over 18 months along and waited my turn. The phlebotomist stuck a bar code label on the latest one – she said this was to track her down if things went wrong – and identified the sample with pen and ink.


  6. Is this a trick question? Shouldn’t there be a barcode on the sample?

    PS I hoard my blood sample forms in the glove compartment…

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