Can you imagine the world without adhesive labels?

Can you imagine the world without adhesive labels?

Open your refrigerator, open your kitchen cupboards – and then your medical cabinet, bathroom drawers and more. Everywhere you look, there are adhesive labels: on your packaged meat, on your canned goods – on your prescription bottles, cosmetics, toiletries and more. Adhesive labels are taken for granted nowadays but, in the big scheme of things, they haven’t been around all that long. The roots of today’s labels began with a process called lithography. This was developed when a Bavarian playwright, Alois Senefelder, figured out how to duplicate his play’s scripts in 1796: he wrote the text with a greasy crayon on limestone and then printed them by rolling on ink. Artists quickly began using this technique – and, by the 1880s, businesses began creating colorful advertisements using lithography. These included eye-catching labels that were attached to products using a form of gum. These labels are sought by collectors now, including those plastered on crates of fruit, vegetables and cigars, flour sacks and more. Although these added a nice touch of color to otherwise mundane packaging, the purpose was really more practical. Because products were put into whatever containers were available, the containers themselves weren’t always the same, and so customers needed to know what was inside.

Adhesive label revolution

In 1935, a man named R. Stanton “Stan” Avery created the first self-adhesive label, which consisted of a layer of paper coated with adhesive and then a protective liner. He created his labeling machine after receiving an investment of $100 from schoolteacher Dorothy Durfee – a woman who later became his first wife. The motor of his self-adhesive labels came from a washing machine, and other parts came from a sewing machine and a saber saw. Barcodes  Enter the barcodes. In the late 1940s, a graduate student at the Drexel Institute of Technology in Philadelphia, Bernard Silver, partnered with Norman Joseph Woodland to invent a way to encode data in circles. This was based on the Morse code and was patented in 1952. Unfortunately, they didn’t invent a system to read the code and so the patent expired without any practical applications. In the 1970s, IBM’s Universal Product Code was created, similar to the previous system but using vertical lines rather than circles. In 1974, the first item – a pack of chewing gum in a supermarket in Troy, Ohio – was scanned. Two years later, with little interest in barcodes to date, Business Week called them “The Supermarket Scanner That Failed.” In the 1980s, though, bigger retailers such as Kmart began using barcodes and they became the standard. It’s incredible how much barcode label technology has advanced; see what we can do for you.

Barcodes

Enter the barcodes. In the late 1940s, a graduate student at the Drexel Institute of Technology in Philadelphia, Bernard Silver, partnered with Norman Joseph Woodland to invent a way to encode data in circles. This was based on the Morse code and was patented in 1952. Unfortunately, they didn’t invent a system to read the code and so the patent expired without any practical applications.

In the 1970s, IBM’s Universal Product Code was created, similar to the previous system but using vertical lines rather than circles. In 1974, the first item – a pack of chewing gum in a supermarket in Troy, Ohio – was scanned.

Two years later, with little interest in barcodes to date, Business Week called them “The Supermarket Scanner That Failed.” In the 1980s, though, bigger retailers such as Kmart began using barcodes and they became the standard.

It’s incredible how much barcode label technology has advanced; see what we can do for you.

How can we help with your adhesive labels?

Technology has come a long way from 1796 when lithography was first invented. It’s come a long way since the 1980s – and continues to evolve. Contact Adhesa Plate for your adhesive label needs, both now and in the future. If you have questions or want to talk about your labeling needs, call 1-800-634-9701 now or email us at sales@adhesaplate.com

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