How we got here

Over the last 40 years, we’ve opened offices in over 100 countries and amassed more than a million members using supply chain standards that make business easier. Learn about key dates in our history.

  • 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 April, 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.

  • 1999:   The GS1 DataBar arrives

    After significant research and design, the GS1 DataBar is created. This holds more information than a barcode, yet is significantly smaller.

  • 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.


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