Bar Code Pioneer Proved the Technology Was Sturdy

The essential plan at the rear of the bar code came from analysis by N.

Joseph Woodland


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 building a process to determine railcars, he served convert bar codes and their derivatives into an inescapable badge of present day lifestyle, applied to establish merchandise, inventories, packages and people today acquiring on airplanes.

Mr. Collins, a civil engineer, was working for a Sylvania Electric Solutions Inc. lab in Waltham, Mass., when he came up with his notion for monitoring railcars. He labeled the cars and trucks with styles of bars in numerous colours. Scanners read through those codes as automobiles hauled gravel as a result of Massachusetts. “It worked pretty, very effectively,” Mr. Collins explained afterwards.

Railroads tried using his KarTrak program in the late 1960s and 1970s but afterwards switched to RFID tags. Mr. Collins remaining Sylvania to sort Personal computer Identics Corp., which created laser scanners and furnished programs to

Common Motors

to preserve monitor of elements on a Pontiac assembly line. Pc Identics also used the codes to monitor deals.

Other people developed codes and scanners for groceries and other products, starting 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 residence in Duxbury, Mass. He was 86.

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

He examined civil engineering at Villanova College, where by he graduated in 1957. While functioning on his undergraduate diploma, he had a summer job as a surveyor for the Pennsylvania Railroad. He earned a master’s diploma in industrial administration at the Massachusetts Institute of Technological innovation in 1959.

His railroad encounter helped give him his analysis idea when he joined Sylvania. In an interview with an MIT publication, he recalled that punch-card systems that tracked railcars had been topic to errors, foremost to “a good deal of chaos.”

Mr. Collins later led Pc Identics as chairman and chief govt. In the late 1970s, the Massachusetts-dependent company supplied bar-code technological know-how to observe runners in the New York City Marathon. In December 1983, Personal computer Identics went general public with an preliminary general public offering of stock.

Seeking to broaden in Europe, Personal computer Identics formed a joint enterprise with NV Bekaert. That Belgian business ultimately acquired a 25% stake in Pc Identics. As Laptop Identics struggled with losses in the mid-1980s, Bekaert and other shareholders put tension on the management. Mr. Collins gave up the CEO job in 1986 and stepped down as chairman in 1987. He shaped a consulting business, Details Seize Institute, in Duxbury.

Mr. Collins is survived by his wife,

Joan Hacker Collins,

5 little ones and 10 grandchildren. An earlier marriage finished 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 identified to sail that, when limited-handed, he occasionally resorted to recruiting his daughter’s previous boyfriends as crew members. 

Create to James R. Hagerty at [email protected]

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