Bar Code Pioneer Proved the Technological know-how Was Sturdy

The primary notion driving the bar code arrived from study by N.

Joseph Woodland


Bernard Silver

in the late 1940s.

In the early 1960s,

David J. Collins

pioneered a way to scan bar codes with flashes of light-weight. By establishing a method to recognize railcars, he served switch bar codes and their derivatives into an inescapable badge of contemporary lifetime, made use of to recognize goods, inventories, packages and men and women finding on airplanes.

Mr. Collins, a civil engineer, was doing work for a Sylvania Electrical Items Inc. lab in Waltham, Mass., when he came up with his concept for tracking railcars. He labeled the autos with styles of bars in many colors. Scanners read people codes as cars and trucks hauled gravel as a result of Massachusetts. “It labored incredibly, extremely nicely,” Mr. Collins claimed afterwards.

Railroads tried his KarTrak program in the late 1960s and 1970s but afterwards switched to RFID tags. Mr. Collins left Sylvania to variety Pc Identics Corp., which produced laser scanners and presented devices to

Typical Motors

to hold monitor of elements on a Pontiac assembly line. Personal computer Identics also utilized the codes to observe packages.

Others made codes and scanners for groceries and other products, starting off with a pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum in 1974.

Mr. Collins died March 12 of issues from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, at his property in Duxbury, Mass. He was 86.

David Jarrett Collins, the youngest of 3 kids, was born Feb. 11, 1936, and grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs. His father ran a railroad-offer organization. As a teen, he rowed competitively on the Schuylkill River with the Vesper Boat Club.

He studied civil engineering at Villanova University, in which he graduated in 1957. Whilst functioning on his undergraduate diploma, he had a summer time occupation as a surveyor for the Pennsylvania Railroad. He acquired a master’s diploma in industrial administration at the Massachusetts Institute of Technologies in 1959.

His railroad encounter helped give him his study idea when he joined Sylvania. In an interview with an MIT publication, he recalled that punch-card methods that tracked railcars had been matter to errors, major to “a good deal of chaos.”

Mr. Collins later led Pc Identics as chairman and main govt. In the late 1970s, the Massachusetts-based enterprise supplied bar-code technology to monitor runners in the New York Town Marathon. In December 1983, Laptop or computer Identics went public with an initial public offering of inventory.

In search of to develop in Europe, Pc Identics shaped a joint enterprise with NV Bekaert. That Belgian firm ultimately obtained a 25% stake in Pc Identics. As Computer Identics struggled with losses in the mid-1980s, Bekaert and other shareholders put stress on the management. Mr. Collins gave up the CEO task in 1986 and stepped down as chairman in 1987. He fashioned a consulting organization, Details Seize Institute, in Duxbury.

Mr. Collins is survived by his wife,

Joan Hacker Collins,

5 youngsters and 10 grandchildren. An before marriage ended in divorce.

Mr. Collins was an enthusiastic sailboat cruiser and racer. One of his sons,

Jarrett Collins,

recalled in a eulogy that his father was so decided to sail that, when shorter-handed, he in some cases resorted to recruiting his daughter’s previous boyfriends as crew associates. 

Write to James R. Hagerty at [email protected]

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