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Invisible and essential, scanning through the history and impact of barcodes

Retail barcode.
Peter Dazeley
The Image Bank RF / Getty Images
Retail barcode.

Barcodes are everywhere, and they helped to shape the world we live in. This hour, we'll look at the history and impact of barcodes. Plus, we'll look at the rise of QR code menus and tickets, and talk about what we might gain and lose as we move away from physical objects to digital ones.


  • Jordan Frith: Pearce Professor of Professional Communications at Clemson University, and author of the book Barcode
  • Sean Willard: Menu Engineer with Menu Engineers
  • Bailey Sincox: Perkins-Cotsen Postdoctoral Fellow in the Princeton Society of Fellows, where she teaches and writes about early modern English literature

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Colin McEnroe and Cat Pastor contributed to this show.

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Lily is the senior producer for The Colin McEnroe Show. She first worked at Connecticut Public as an intern in 2014. She has previously worked for WBUR, KUNC and as a producer for the New England News Collaborative's weekly show Next. Lily can be reached at ltyson@ctpublic.org.