The Convergence of Physical and Digital Commerce: The Past
Today we’re going to kick off our examination of the merger of physical and digital commerce by taking a look at the evolution of point-of-sale technology, beginning with the creation of the barcode and the cash register, progressing through to the adoption of modern e-commerce solutions.
The first research into automatically interacting with products was undertaken by Bernard Silver and Norman Woodland beginning in the late 1940’s. Over the next decade Silver and Woodland worked on a solution that resulted in the patenting of the first barcode in the late 1950’s (see Figure 1 below). It then wasn’t until 1966 when the barcode was first used commercially, though its widespread use didn’t come until IBM’s George J. Laurer invented the UPC code in 1973—standardizing the barcode used in much of the world today.
In our next post we’ll take a look at the present changes the world of shopping is undergoing, as brick-and-mortar retailers adapt to the new environment by creating virtual extensions of their physical stores, and mobile devices serve as access points to the digital marketplace. Stay tuned!