UPC Standards

Early U.P.C. Standards Documentation
  • This May 1973 Original U.P.C. Symbol Specification, a gift from George Laurer, the creator of the U.P.C. proposal made by IBM, still contains notes written by George and possibly some associates from the early 1970's.  This was the initial widely available documentation about the U.P.C..  One obtained a 5 digit vendor code from Distribution Number Bank for a fee based on the amount of sales the organization had.  With that purchase a much more detailed notebook on the standard was provided.
  • The May 1973 Symbol Location Guide, a gift from George Laurer, the creator of the U.P.C. proposal made by IBM, was released at the same time.

Proposals to the Symbol Selection Committee - Circa 1972, 1973
  • IBM
    Initially IBM had intended to support the concentric circle symbol used by RCA in their store test at a Montgomery Pike Kroger store in Cincinnati. But upon further reflection and engineering IBM decided to propose a barcode which could be made to operate omni-directionally through the scanner.  Their proposals eventually became the basis for the U.P.C. Symbol although it was modified slightly by the Symbol Selection Committee.
    • IBM made its first proposal in 1972 and revised it three times before the Symbol selection was made.  This copy of the Original U.P.C. Proposal, a gift from George Laurer, the creator of the U.P.C. proposal made by IBM, still contain George's original update notes leading to Revision 1.
    • IBM's First Proposal Revision 1 made in October 1972 added descriptions of how handle multiple number series to incorporate National Drug Code identifications and other related  codes similar to Grocery.  IBM also defined a "truncated" code which was half the size of the standard code to accommodate smaller packaging. Evidently there were questions related to packaging forms that needed addressing and IBM responded with Appendices A through C available here

  • RCA (Univac)
    Initially RCA held the most prominent place in proposing a U.P.C. symbol. Upon demonstrating a concentric circle, or bullseye, symbol technology in a well publicized store test where the scanning system was the full checkout for many months, RCA proposed a version of the concentric circle symbol to the Symbol Selection Committee.  Univac acquired the Computer Divisions of RCA including the Checkout development group before checkout system products became generally available, so the product was marketed under the Univac name.



The number of documents here will be expanded over time.