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 Why the Bar Code Will Always Be the Mark of the Beast

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PostSubject: Why the Bar Code Will Always Be the Mark of the Beast   Sun Dec 30, 2012 10:16 am



Joe Woodland invented the bar code — that collection of lines and numbers used to ring up your groceries every time you visit the supermarket — and after the longtime IBMer passed away earlier this month at the age of 91, the response from certain parts of the web was all too predictable.

“It’s the mark of the beast!” wrote one regular Wired commenter in response to our Joe Woodland tribute, pointing readers to the 16th verse of the 13th chapter of the Book of Revelation. Revelation is the final book of the Bible’s New Testament, and among other things, it foretells an apocalypse in which a beast will rise from the earth, rain fire from the heavens, and lay his mark on all of humankind — a mark used to buy and sell.

“He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name,” reads the 13th chapter. “Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.”

Presumably, that commenter was having a bit of fun — he calls himself “Full Metal Pizza” and his tagline is “Soylent Green is STILL made out of people!!!” — but ever since Woodland and his IBM colleagues introduced the Universal Product Code, they’ve been chased by claims that it’s a step toward the apocalypse — and not all these claims were made in jest.

When the first UPC scanners arrived in the early 1970s, according to various IBMers who worked on the project, there were protests at grocery stores — even though the codes appeared on Coke cans and jars of applesauce, not right hands and foreheads. And in the years that followed, an urban legend arose, warning gullible types that the number 666 was hidden in each bar code. George Laurer — who designed the bar code as we know it today, expanding on Woodland’s original idea — once received a letter via registered mail from someone who claimed to be Satan and asked Laurer how it felt to have carried out his orders.

read more: http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/2012/12/upc-mark-of-the-beast/
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