Boomzilla continues: Barcodes were first developed in the railroad business to keep track of which cars went with which engine. The barcodes were imprinted on the side of the railway cars. The barcodes on each car could then be read together to compile information on that particular grouping; what station they came from, where they were headed, etc. thus automating the process of marshalling. When the business world realized how well this system worked, these railway barcodes evolved into the UPC system with which we are all familiar. To really be able to take in the wonder that are bar codes, check out the excellent FAQ created by Russ Adams and an article from the BBC.
Coming full circle, the clever folks at Bekonscot Model Railway in the UK have utilized barcodes at every turn of their expansive system. For example, an MP3 player is driven off barcodes attached to trains. The trains are announced before they arrive and when they are leaving, stating their destination, route and at what stations they will call.
Want a barcode of your name?