Alan Haberman, one of the prime movers behind the global push for automatic identification, died earlier this week at the age of 81. Haberman, a former supermarket executive, led the committee that in 1973 chose the bar code as the vehicle for conveying the new Universal Product Code (UPC) product identifier. He spent decades promoting its use and that of other auto ID technologies, once comparing the UPC to "one language, a kind of Esperanto" that makes commercial transactions universally comprehensible.
Haberman was a longtime member of the board of governors of the Uniform Code Council, now known as GS1 US, the not-for-profit standards group that establishes product and bar codes as well as electronic data sharing standards.
"Alan Haberman literally put a stamp on global commerce as one of a handful of grocery executives involved in creating the UPC," said Bob Carpenter, president and chief executive officer of GS1 US, in a statement. "He was a huge contributor to the selection of this symbol, which is going strong after almost four decades and is used by nearly 2 million companies around the world."
Haberman also had a hand in the creation of the Auto-ID Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1990s, which led to the development of the Electronic Product Code and commercial uses of radio frequency identification (RFID).
To read more about Haberman's accomplishments and his role in creating a "scannable society," see the June 16 New York Times article.