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A barcode (also bar code) is a representation of information as a group of parallel lines (or concentric circles, in at least one symbology) of various widths and spacings. The mapping between messages and barcodes is called a symbology. Symbologies can be classified into two groups in two different ways:
  • Continuous vs. discrete: Characters in continuous symbologies abut, with one character ending with a space and the next beginning with a bar, or vice versa. Characters in discrete symbologies begin and end with bars; the intercharacter space is ignored, as long as it is not wide enough to look like the code ends.
  • Two-width vs. many-width: Bars in two-width symbologies are wide or narrow; how wide a wide bar is does not matter, and may vary from one character to the next. Bars in many-width symbologies are all multiples of a width called X; usually bars of width X, 2X, 3X, and 4X are used.

Table of contents

Examples of barcodes Code 128-B:


Types of barcodes

Linear barcodes

Plessey[?]ContinuousTwoCatalogs, store shelves, inventory
UPCContinuousManyUSA retail
EAN-UCC  Worldwide retail
Codabar[?]DiscreteTwoLibraries, blood banks, airbills
Interleaved 2 of 5[?]ContinuousTwoWholesale
Code 39[?]DiscreteTwoVarious
Code 93[?]ContinuousManyVarious
Code 128[?]ContinuousManyVarious
Code 11[?]DiscreteTwoTelephones
POSTNET[?]ContinuousTall/shortPost office

2-D barcodes

3-DIDeveloped by Lynn Ltd.
ArrayTagFrom ArrayTech Systems.
Aztec CodePublic domain.
Small Aztec Code 
BullseyeThis was the barcode tested in a Kroger store in Cincinnati. It used concentric bars.
CodablockStacked 1D barcodes.
Code 1Public domain.
Code 16KBased on 1D Code 128.
Code 49Stacked 1D barcodes from Intermec Corp.
CP CodeFrom CP Tron, Inc.
Data GlyphsFrom Xerox PARC.
Data MatrixFrom RVSI Acuity CiMatrix.
Datastrip CodeFrom Datastrip, Inc.
Dot Code A 
HueCodeFrom Robot Design Associates. Uses greyscale or colour.
INTACTA.CODEFrom INTACTA Technologies, Inc.
MaxiCodeUsed by United Parcel Service.
MiniCodeFrom Omniplanar, Inc.
PDF417The most common 2D barcode. Public domain.
Micro PDF417 
QR CodeFrom Nippondenso ID Systems. Public domain.
SmartCodeFrom InfoImaging Technologies.
Snowflake CodeFrom Marconi Data Systems, Inc.
SuperCodePublic domain.
UltraCodeBlack-and-white & colour versions. Public domain.

See also : Global Trade Item Numbering, RFID

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