Our story

40 years as The Global Language of Business

2013 marked the 40th anniversary of the creation of the GS1 barcode

For 40 years, GS1 has been bringing industries together to revolutionise the way they do business.

In 1973, industry leaders came together to select a single standard for product identification — the barcode. What started as a way to speed grocery store checkout has become the global language of business — a common way for trading partners around the world to identify, capture, and share information about products, locations, and more.

Today, GS1 is helping diverse industries drive efficiency, safety, and growth through the adoption and use of standards. From retail to healthcare to fresh foods to foodservice to transportation, GS1 Standards continue to transform our lives.

GS1 traces its origins to a historic decision on April 3, 1973 by the U.S. grocery industry to select the linear barcode as the Universal Product Code (UPC) symbology. Three years later, the European Article Numbering Association (EAN) was chartered in Brussels, Belgium by 12 European members. The EAN organisation, which developed a barcode fully compatible with the Universal Code Council's (UCC) UPC symbol, is now known as GS1.

View the GS1 Timeline