Google’s Logo a Dedication to the Barcode (Patent 2,612,994)

The original barcode is patented.If you’ve been to Google’s homepage today you might have seen Google’s new barcode logo. Google has been well known to display special logo’s for special events. However, this logo’s special event maybe a little harder to determine.


Google’s logo today is a simple barcode which honors the 57th anniversary of the first patent on a barcode. Google’s homepage barcode was probably created using its own barcode project titled ZXing, which is an open-source, multi-format 1D/2D barcode image processing library. Several outlets are reporting that Google’s barcode spells out “Google” using code 128 (which is just a way of encoding standard ASCII character strings (ie. A-Z, a-z, 0-9, etc.) into a barcode).

The original barcode patent was filed on October 20, 1949, and was issued to Norman J. Woodland and Bernard Silver on October 7, 1952. This patent is drawn to:

“The art of article classification and has particular relation to classification through the medium of identifying patterns. It is an object of the invention to provide automatic apparatus for classifying things according to photo-response to lines and/or colors which constitute classification instructions.” 


As seen in the patent drawings above, the first barcode was vastly different than the popular versions used today. In fact, the inventors anticipated using a circular barcode (see Fig. 10) in addition to the horizontal barcodes that are still in use today.

Barcodes were first implemented as a means to label railroad cars, but this method of use was not widely successful. Current barcodes can be read by optical scanners (known as barcode readers) or scanned from an image using special software. Most people are probably familiar with barcodes being used to automate the supermarket checkout system, but they are also used on tickets to theatres and arenas, on items to track movement (rental cars, luggage, mail and nuclear waste) and have even been placed on bees to track mating habits.

For those interested in seeing past Google holiday and special event logos you can do so here.

October 7, 2009

Category: Crazy Inventions, IP Current Events

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