UPC stands for Universal Product Code. It is type of linear barcodes and mostly widely used for retail applications.
There are two variations of UPC
UPC-A is a variation of UPC and uses 12 digits for information encoding. Out of these 12 digits, 11 digits contain the product information while the last digit is the checksum digit. The eleven product digits are further divided into three logical categories. The first digit represents the information regarding the type of the product. The next five digits contain information about the manufacturer of the product while the last 5 digits contain information about the specific product being encoded.
UPC-E is a shorter version of UPC-A. UPC-E contains 7 digits in total of which 6 digits contain the product information whereas the last digit is the checksum digit. UPC-E is also referred as “Zero Suppressed” version of UPC-A because it suppresses all trailing zeros in the manufacturer’s information digits and all leading zeros from product information digits along with number system digit.
UPC was designed by an IMB Engineer named George Laurer in 1971. IBM has originally asked him to base his barcode design on bull’s eye pattern but he developed a barcode with pattern of vertical strips. With certain modifications and up-gradations, in 1974, the first UPC was pasted on a pack of Wrigley’s gum which marked the paradigm shift in the way people use to shop.