“Wand” Speeds Checkout (Jul, 1964)

I guess this was an alternative to barcodes, though it doesn’t seem too practical. I’d think that the labels would get lost, and would be easy to spoof. Plus you only get to scan it once.

“Wand” speeds checkout.
To move supermarket lines faster, this recent IBM patent would use a flexible tube and a vacuum pump to suck up magnetically printed stickers and feed them to a register. The register would read the magnetic code and total the purchases quickly. The tabs would also serve for the store’s stock and inventory control.

1 comment
  1. ganmerlad says: March 21, 20099:02 am

    This idea is terrible. It would be easy to switch prices. Prices would constantly fall off if they were stuck on lightly enough to be sucked up a tube. They would get stuck IN the tube. They would rip in half while being sucked up. They would flip around in the air stream and not be read.

    The team next came up with the idea of computer card (punched card) price readers, but the checkers only put them in the right direction 1/4 of the time.

    Then they tried using magnetic tape, but soon discovered that shoppers are careless about the way they put products into their cart, and the tapes were routinely ripped and scratched and rendered useless in 3 of 10 readings.

    Fed up, they finally went with the idea of the least liked associate, and decided to try lasers and barcodes, and to much to their dismay, it worked exceptionally well (as long as someone had bothered to put the price in the system in the first place).

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