The person’s name is not known, but whoever bought a pack of chewing gum at the Marsh Supermarket in Troy, Ohio, on June 26, 1974, was making history. It was the first purchase of an item to be scanned into a cash register by using the universal product code — much better known as the bar code. Realizing the significance of the event, the buyer returned the item — a 10-pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit — which is now on display at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. The sound of the old cash register is now relegated to history, along with the mournful whistle of a steam locomotive. Today, the bar code is part of everyday life for all of those who shop and work in America’s more than 1.1 million retail stores.
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