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Woodland, N. Joseph, 1921-2012  Search this
International Business Machines Corporation  Search this
3.5 Cubic feet (11 boxes, 1 map-folder)
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Technical drawings
Examinations (documents)
The collection documents the career of N. Joseph Woodland, who, along with Bernard Silver, invented and developed the bar code.
Scope and Contents:
The collection documents the career of N. Joseph Woodland, who, along with Bernard Silver, invented and developed the bar code. The collection includes papers relating to Woodland's early life and education, such as exams and transcripts; papers relating to his work with IBM, including correspondence, notes and notebooks, and technical drawings; patents; photographs; awards and honors; articles.
The collection is arranged into five series. Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1943-2012 Series 2: International Business machines Corporation (IBM), 1951-2006 Series 3: Node Code, 1986-2003 Series 4: Consulting, 1987-2000 Series 5: Audiovisual Materials, 1990-2011
Biographical / Historical:
Norman Joseph Woodland (1921-2012) was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Woodland also served during World War II in the Army as a technical assistant for the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Drexel University (1947) and a Masters in Mechanical Engineering from Syracuse University (1956). He joined the Drexel University faculty as a lecturer in mechanical engineering in 1947. In 1948, Woodland became aware of the need for supermarket inventory control through automated checkout. He conceived of the idea of using printed parallel stripes of varying widths to encode prices of items in 1949. Woodland, together with Bernard Silver (1921-1963), an electrical engineer, and fellow Drexel University faculty lecturer, defined a system to exploit the bar code invention to automatically capture item prices as well as inventory data. Woodland and Silver were issued US patent 2,612,994 for a classifying apparatus and method on October 7, 1952. Woodland and Silver sold their patent for $15,000 to Philco in 1961. Woodland joined IBM in 1951 as a mechanical designer and later worked as a senior planner in artificial intelligence in general and expert systems. While at IBM, Woodland identified and applied existing and emerging technologies to enhance planned IBM products and systems. He worked in store systems marketing, long-range market planning, product planning, and artificial intelligence development. In 1983, he received an IBM technical sabbatical to work on expert systems and robotics at Carnegie Mellon University and to study these systems in use in Japan. A significant portion of Woodland's career focused on the bar code in general and supermarket automated check-out processes. His work laid the foundation for the creation of the universal product code (UPC symbol), for which ), for which he was an integral part of the IBM team's winning design, in his role as the person responsible for IBM's UPC symbol proposal to the grocery industry's symbol selection committee. In 1992, Woodland won the National Medal of Technology for his invention and contribution to the commercialization of bar code technology, which improved productivity in every industrial sector and gave rise to the bar code industry. Woodland holds six patents. Woodland married Jacqueline Woodland (née Blumberg) in 1951 and they had two daughters, Betsy Karpenkopf and Susan Woodland.
Donated to the Archives Center in 2017 by Susan Woodland, the daughter of N. Joseph Woodland.
Collection is open for research.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Bar coding  Search this
Numerical control  Search this
Inventors -- 20th century  Search this
Inventions -- 20th century  Search this
Articles -- 20th century
Transcripts -- 20th century
Technical drawings -- 20th century
Notebooks -- 20th century
Correspondence -- 20th century
Examinations (documents) -- 20th century
Notes -- 20th century
Patents -- 20th century
N. Joseph Woodland Papers, 1943-2012, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
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N. Joseph Woodland Papers
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History