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The last 35 years have seen phenomenal growth in the use of barcodes. We are all familiar with the use of bar codes in retail stores, but that is only one very visible aspect to the world of automatic identification.

The wider use of computers in business has increased the demand for and usefulness of data. Data of all kinds is transmitted day and night between companies, from the stock levels and re-order requirements of the neighbourhood supermarket to the movement of vast sums between the world money markets.

With this data explosion came the need for fast, automated data input. Barcodes provided this. Within a fraction of a second the sophisticated equipment on a supermarket checkout can read a barcode from a grocery item, decode it into an article number, look up that number on the main computer, and record the price and item title on the till receipt. At the same time the main computer logs the decrease in stock and when it has fallen to a pre-determined level, sends an electronic message down the telephone line to the main warehouse. The same computer network carries the automatic re-order information to the individual suppliers and so on down the chain of supply.

The barcode image is an ideal way of automatically identifying an article. Unlike magnetic stripes or radio frequency tags it is cheap to produce, requiring only ink and paper. Unlike text or graphics it can be read quickly and in any orientation by a relatively inexpensive machine. All that is needed is an accurate and reliable way of producing the bar code image.

The aim of this guide is to explain some of the basics of bar coding, particularly in relation to our software, to show the opportunities and to warn of the pitfalls. We hope to welcome you to the world of bar coding and our growing user-base.











Bar Code Uses

Bar Code Structures

Getting a Good Scan

PostScript Imaging of Bar Codes

Quality Checking




Code 128

Code 39

ITF (Interleaved 2 of 5 )


Glossary of Bar Code Terms


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WBC4 and MBC4 barcode software for Windows and Mac OS


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