George Laurer – A Biography

George Joseph Laurer is the credited developer of the Universal Product Code, or UPC barcodes. He did this on request while he was working as an engineer at IBM. IBM (International Business Machines Corporation) is an American technology and consulting corporation, which specialises in and manufactures computer hardware and infrastructure.

Drafted by the army while still in the 11th grade, Laurer attended a technical school for radio and TV repair after being discharged as a technical sergeant. However, after a year of serving during World War II, Laurer’s instructors encouraged him to step down from his position and attend college instead.

By the summer of 1951, he had graduated with a B.S. from the University of Maryland School of Engineering and began working as a junior engineer at IBM. Working his way up the ranks, he eventually became senior engineer/scientist for IBM’s Research Triangle Park in 1969. And it was just a few years later, in 1973, that Laurer would head up the development of the Universal Product bar code symbol – revolutionising almost every industry that exists today.

During his career at IBM, he was highly recognised and rewarded for his technical innovations. He received the prestigious “Raleigh, N.C. Inventor of the Year” award in 1976. And in 1980 he was honoured with IBM’s Corporate Technical Achievement award for his work on the Universal Product barcodes proposal that was issued in 1970 by McKinsey & Co. and Uniform Grocery Product Code Council, Inc. Even having retired in 1987, George Laurer is a holder of 25 patents, and also authored 20 published Technical Disclosure Bulletins.

Today, Laurer lives in Wendell, North Carolina, and hosts a website which links to barcode news and the Authenticated UPC Registration Directory. Laurer is available for answering any barcode related questions, and also provides lists of credible and non-credible barcode resellers for those new to the industry.

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