50 years of transforming tomorrow

On 3 April 1973, an industry-wide agreement was made
that changed the course of global commerce
and gave rise to the iconic barcode and GS1.

50 years ago

50 years ago, the GS1 barcode was created to transform grocery shopping and empower more reliable and resilient supply chains.

Industry leaders came together to transform the way we shop and created the barcode. From that point forward, a simple scan at checkout connected a physical product to its digital identity—and information that could be shared in stores and throughout the supply chain.

Since then, GS1 standards have powered more reliable and transparent supply chains across industries.

The next generation of barcodes

GS1 is now supporting a global transition to QR codes powered by GS1 that allow everything, from scanners to smart phones, to easily obtain information about a product.


Explore our history

50 years ago, on 3 April 1973, the GS1 barcode was created and forever changed the way we shop, although our history goes even further back to a beach in Florida in 1948. Though now a part of everyday life around the world, the ubiquitous barcode is often taken for granted—or even ignored.

The leaps in innovation the barcode has enabled would have been beyond our imagination half a century ago. From powering supply chains and digitalisation, to ecommerce, protecting people and helping save the planet… it has become the beeping heart of so much, with over 10 billion scans a day.

As we celebrate this milestone, GS1 barcodes continue to be the catalyst for digital transformation and progress.

How the barcode and GS1 has transformed industry and the world we live in

How the barcode has transformed our lives

Hear how the barcode has transformed industry and our lives for 50 years in these interviews with the BBC.