DICK LURIA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DICK LURIA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Barcode scanner. Infrared beams (red) being used to scan a barcode (centre). A barcode is a series of black bars and white spaces that represents a sequence of numbers and letters. There are three sets of infrared beams here, corresponding to the three spaces in the cover over the actual scanner. The scanner (below the glass) detects the infrared light that is reflected from the barcode, and this enables the spacing and thickness of the bars to be measured. A computer can then be used to decode the barcode to obtain prices and other information about the object. Retail barcode scanning began in 1974.
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