LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J. — GS1 US, the not-for-profit standards group here, reflected on the June 12 death of Alan L. Haberman, a former food retailer who helped select the design for the Universal Product Code bar code and served on the organization’s Board of Governors for many years.
“Alan Haberman literally put a stamp on global commerce as one of a handful of grocery executives involved in creating the UPC,” said Bob Carpenter, president and chief executive officer of GS1 US, in a statement. “He was a huge contributor to the selection of this symbol, which is going strong after almost four decades and is used by nearly 2 million companies around the world."
Haberman also contributed to the creation of the Auto-ID Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1990s, leading to the development of the Electronic Product Code and commercial uses of RFID, which is currently undergoing a sharp increase in use in stores, warehouses, factories and elsewhere, noted Carpenter.
SN recognized Haberman in 2002 as one of 50 Visionaries who helped to transform food retailing.
Haberman was chief executive officer of First National Stores, a New England supermarket chain that he sold in the late 1970s. In 1971, he joined the “Ad Hoc Committee,” the industry group created to develop a uniform grocery product identification code; Haberman’s role was chairman of its Symbol Selection Committee, which selected the series of black and white lines that became the UPC.
“Alan’s leadership created an atmosphere where ideas sparked and true synergy existed,” wrote Stephen A. Brown, longtime legal counsel for the Uniform Code Council, which became GS1 US, in his 1997 book, “Revolution at the Checkout Counter,” a history of the bar code.
“It is impossible to sum up Alan Haberman in a word, a phrase, a sentence or even a paragraph,” wrote Brown. “He is truly a Renaissance man, melding business acumen, technical ability and human understanding.”