What is a barcode? A barcode is a machine-readable pattern applied to products, packages, or parts. Barcodes contain data used for informational and marketing purposes as well as for tracking products throughout their lifecycle. Although barcode technology was originally patented in 1952, it wasn’t until 1974 that the first product – a package of Wrigley’s gum – was scanned at a Marsh® supermarket in Ohio. Today, barcodes come in dozens of different formats, from a row of simple lines called a 1-D (one-dimensional) barcode to dots and squares that form a 2-D (two-dimensional) code; QR (Quick Response) and DataMatrix codes are among the most popular 2-D codes. The more advanced 2-D code allows users to store and retrieve significantly more data than they could with a 1-D code. This is because 1-D codes only contain data in the horizontal direction whereas 2-D codes contain information both vertically and horizontally.