The logistics industry is noting the loss of a pioneer in the area of automatic identification and data capture (AIDC) with the news that David Collins, who led the development of the first commercially successful barcode scanners and was widely considered the “father of the barcode industry,” died in March.
According to his obituary, Collins was 86 and died of complications from ALS. His career began when Collins joined Sylvania Electric Products at its Applied Research Lab in Waltham, Massachusetts, in 1959 and created a system to track railroad cars labeled with a pattern of red, white, blue, and black bars. Bolted to the side of railroad cars on three-foot tall metal plates, these early “bar codes” could be read by laser scanners positioned along the tracks, accurately identifying the cars as they sped by.
By 1968, Collins left the firm to found his own company, Computer Identics Corp., and soon developed the first black and white barcodes, as well as the laser scanners capable of reading them. Early commercial applications included automobile manufacturing and package delivery.
After he stepped away from day-to-day management of Computer Identics in 1987, Collins formed a consulting firm called Data Capture Institute where he helped spread the technology to additional users such as large corporations and U.S. government branches like the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Department of Defense, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Collins also contributed to the logistics sector by co-founding the Automatic Identification Manufacturers (AIM) trade association in 1971, helping to standardize the technology throughout the world, industry veteran John Hill said in a statement. In 1992 he received AIM’s Dilling Award that recognizes executives, scientists, and engineers for outstanding contributions to accelerating industry growth, and was elected in 1997 as a charter member of AIDC 100, an organization of automatic identification entrepreneurs and users, Hill said.