A Barcode (also bar code) is an optical, machine-readable representation of data; the data usually describes something about the object that carries the barcode. Traditional barcodes systematically represent data by varying the widths and spacings of parallel lines, and may be referred to as linear or one-dimensional.
Barcodes became commercially successful when they were used to automate supermarket checkout systems, a task for which they have become almost universal. Their use has spread to many other tasks that are generically referred to as automatic identification and data capture (AIDC).
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Barcodes are extremely versatile. They can be used for any kind of necessary data collection. This could include pricing or inventory information. Additionally, because barcodes can be attached to just about any surface, they can be used to track not only the products themselves, but also outgoing shipments and even equipment.