A Brief History of QR Codes


The United States uses more QR codes than any other country other than Japan. With these types of 2D barcodes being so prevalent in their usage, it is important to understand the history of QR codes, 2D barcodes, and 2D barcode verifiers; by extension, it may then be possible to understand why they became so globally popular.

What Are QR Codes, and How Do They Work?

The “QR” in QR code stands for “quick response,” which is incredibly appropriate, given the functionality of these types of barcodes. QR codes, which are a specialty type of 2D barcode, are used to transmit and store data. Because of their design and complexity, they are able to store more complex information than their 1D barcode counterparts. While mobile phones are usually the most common device used to verify barcodes like these, there are also specialized 2D barcode verifiers that can be used to read them as well.

The First Printed Barcodes

1D barcodes predate QR codes considerably, with the first QR codes appearing decades after the first usage of 1D barcodes. The first 1D barcode, a UPC barcode on a pack of Wrigley’s chewing gum, was scanned in an Ohio supermarket in 1974. These predecessors to more advanced 2D barcodes quickly rose in popularity due to their benefits within retail and manufacturing; they allowed for increased transaction speeds, more thorough organization, and overall improved efficiency. The first QR code, however, was not created until 1994, when it was used by Toyota during the manufacturing of car parts. The design of these new codes allowed for increased data capacity, which further improved the efficacy of barcodes.

Modern Uses of QR Code Technology

Today’s QR codes have developed substantially since their initial application within automotive manufacturing. They are now frequently seen used in ticketing, entertainment, marketing, and of course manufacturing. The rise in popularity of smartphones allows the general population to have access to their own barcode verifiers at the touch of a button, making QR codes useful tools for communicating information and for marketing purposes.

QR codes continue to increase in prevalence within society, both nationwide and globally. Nowadays, it is even possible for the general public to create their own 2D barcodes through online generators, further increasing the frequency with which they appear. Overall, this unique piece of technology continues to advance in its capabilities and daily usage, making its history all the more important to fully understand.

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