Bar Code Pioneer Proved the Technological innovation Was Robust

The primary idea driving the bar code arrived from investigate by N.

Joseph Woodland

and

Bernard Silver

in the late 1940s.

In the early 1960s,

David J. Collins

pioneered a way to scan bar codes with flashes of light-weight. By creating a technique to establish railcars, he served turn bar codes and their derivatives into an inescapable badge of contemporary life, made use of to discover items, inventories, deals and people today getting on airplanes.

Mr. Collins, a civil engineer, was functioning for a Sylvania Electric Solutions Inc. lab in Waltham, Mass., when he came up with his concept for tracking railcars. He labeled the autos with styles of bars in many colors. Scanners go through those codes as autos hauled gravel by means of Massachusetts. “It labored incredibly, incredibly properly,” Mr. Collins reported later.

Railroads tried out his KarTrak procedure in the late 1960s and 1970s but later switched to RFID tags. Mr. Collins left Sylvania to form Computer system Identics Corp., which developed laser scanners and provided methods to

Normal Motors

to preserve monitor of areas on a Pontiac assembly line. Computer Identics also applied the codes to observe packages.

Others formulated codes and scanners for groceries and other merchandise, starting off with a pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum in 1974.

Mr. Collins died March 12 of complications from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, at his dwelling in Duxbury, Mass. He was 86.

David Jarrett Collins, the youngest of 3 children, was born Feb. 11, 1936, and grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs. His father ran a railroad-offer corporation. As a teenager, he rowed competitively on the Schuylkill River with the Vesper Boat Club.

He examined civil engineering at Villanova University, wherever he graduated in 1957. Though doing the job on his undergraduate degree, he experienced a summertime occupation as a surveyor for the Pennsylvania Railroad. He acquired a master’s diploma in industrial management at the Massachusetts Institute of Engineering in 1959.

His railroad practical experience assisted give him his research strategy when he joined Sylvania. In an interview with an MIT publication, he recalled that punch-card programs that tracked railcars ended up subject matter to faults, top to “a great deal of chaos.”

Mr. Collins afterwards led Laptop Identics as chairman and chief executive. In the late 1970s, the Massachusetts-based mostly corporation provided bar-code know-how to keep track of runners in the New York Metropolis Marathon. In December 1983, Laptop Identics went community with an first general public presenting of inventory.

Looking for to develop in Europe, Laptop Identics formed a joint venture with NV Bekaert. That Belgian organization ultimately acquired a 25% stake in Computer system Identics. As Computer Identics struggled with losses in the mid-1980s, Bekaert and other shareholders set pressure on the administration. Mr. Collins gave up the CEO job in 1986 and stepped down as chairman in 1987. He fashioned a consulting organization, Knowledge Capture Institute, in Duxbury.

Mr. Collins is survived by his wife,

Joan Hacker Collins,

5 small children and 10 grandchildren. An previously marriage ended in divorce.

Mr. Collins was an enthusiastic sailboat cruiser and racer. One of his sons,

Jarrett Collins,

recalled in a eulogy that his father was so decided to sail that, when shorter-handed, he in some cases resorted to recruiting his daughter’s former boyfriends as crew users. 

Publish to James R. Hagerty at bob.hagerty@wsj.com

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