European Article Numbering: (EAN-13, EAN-8, EAN + 5, EAN + 2, UCC-E, gencode, GTIN) is a digital barcode that can be read omni-directionally.
It is used on all goods whose code is read by a scanner at the cash desks of retail stores.
The UPC code was invented in the 1970s by George J. Laurer, an engineer at IBM and was adopted in May 1973 by the Uniform Grocery Product Code Council (an organization of industrialists and distribution companies in the United States).
George J. Laurer, after graduating from the University of Maryland in 1951, worked at IBM.
In 1969 he was entrusted, by the Uniform Grocery Product Code Council, with the enormous task of creating a code and its identification symbol for all the products distributed in stores.
Its Universal Product Code (UPC) solution radically changed the world of distribution.
He then improved the code by adding a 13th character to it, thus creating the EAN code.
Laurer retired in 1987. He holds 25 patents and is registered on the honor roll of the A. James Clark University School of Engineering in Maryland in the United States (near Washington D.C.).
EAN and UPC:
The EAN-13 code used worldwide and the UPC-A code (Universal Product Code) used in the USA are almost identical.
The only difference being that on a UPC only 12 digits appear instead of 13 digits on the EAN.
A UPC is an EAN whose first 2 characters to the left of the code are 0 (zero).
In the OCR representation (numbers written in clear under the code) of a UPC, only one of these 0 (zero) appears.
Since 2004 the EAN code has also been used by Swiss insurers and doctors with the Swiss flag as part of Tarmed.
For more information see EAN and Tarmed.
Minimum dimension of an EAN 13 symbol
The GS1 regulatory body defines the minimum size of an EAN 13 symbol at 80% of its nominal size, i.e. a minimum width of 29.83 mm for a height of 20.73 mm.
For the composition of the EAN 8 code, see here
Minimum dimension of an EAN 8 symbol
The GS1 regulatory body defines the minimum size of an EAN 8 symbol at 80% of its nominal size, i.e. a minimum width of 21.38 mm for a height of 17.05 mm.
The EAN Code includes the following information:
bullet The EAN Prefix:
2 or 3 digits, it is the code of the country which issued the participant number.
For Switzerland this code is 76.
For other countries see our EAN Prefixes page.
The prefixes 977, 978 and 979 indicate that it is a book or publication with an ISBN or ISSN number
– The Participant Number:
5 to 7 digits, it is issued by the EAN organization of the country concerned.
In Switzerland this organization is:
GS1 – EAN (Switzerland) – CH 3000 Berne – http://www.gs1.ch/
If you are looking for a participant in EAN we advise you to visit this page:
Search the EAN database.
– The Article Number: of the producer of the object thus coded on 3 to 5 digits.
– The Check Digit: or Check Digit is calculated according to the first 7 (EAN-8) or 12 (EAN-13) digits that make up the code.