How we got here

Since 1973, we have opened offices in over 110 countries and amassed more than 2 million members using supply chain standards that make business easier. Learn about key dates in our history.

It all began with a barcode

Beep! On 26 June 1974, a packet of chewing gum became the first barcoded product to be scanned in store. Today, barcodes play a crucial supply chain role, ensuring products hit retail shelves at the right times.

We manage the barcode standard used by retailers, manufacturers and suppliers. If you want to put a barcode on an item that can be scanned anywhere in the world, you need to talk to us.

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1971

Industry Agreement to Collaborate

Industry leaders agree to use a “universal product code” for product identification. This identifier is called the Global Trade Item Number, or GTIN, today.

1973

The barcode standard is agreed

Industry leaders in the US select a single standard for product identification. Still used today, it’s known as the GS1 barcode.

1974

The first barcode is scanned

On 26 June, a packet of chewing gum becomes the first barcoded product to be scanned in a supermarket.

1977

The GS1 system is launched

The European Article Numbering (EAN) Association — later called GS1 — opens an office in Brussels. Its founding members launch an identification system to improve supply chain efficiency.

1983

Barcodes are used on wholesale multi-packs

As barcodes have proved their reliability and usefulness in real-world environments, they are extended and used on product outer cases.

1989

GS1 moves beyond barcodes

With wide area networks making an impact on supply chains, we create our first international standard for electronic data interchange.

1990

Responsibilities grow

The US and international arms of GS1 come together formally, creating a single organisation with a presence in 45 countries.

1995

First healthcare standards created

We expand our work into the healthcare sector, working closely with healthcare bodies and providers.

2000

90th local office opens

In just ten years, we double the number of countries in which we have a local presence.

2002

Global standards forum launched

Our Global Standards Management Process is launched. This global forum gives GS1 members one place to discuss standards.

2004

The first standard for RFID is created

With Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Chips becoming more common, we create a standard for their implementation and use.

2007

GS1 enters the business-to-consumer world

As ecommerce grows, we begin to create open standards that give consumers direct access to key product information.

2013

A 40-year celebration

With a presence in over 100 countries and more than a million members, we celebrate 40 years of the global language of business.