It’s iconic and feels like it’s been around forever, but the UPC is a fairly new invention. The inventor, George Laurer, worked for IBM and invented it in the 1970s. There’s a good write up on him and his invention, here: Universal Product Code Designer George Laurer Dies At 94 : NPR.
While IBM has been associated with many IT innovations, this one particular one likely touches more people’s lives than any other.
For more on how to read UPCs, and to appreciate just how much information is packed into one, go here.