Code 39

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Definition: Code 39

Code 39 is a common horizontal bar code found on products. Code 39 also known as code 3 of 9 was the first alphanumeric symbology developed by two researchers from Intermec, named Ray Stevens and Dr. David Allais in the year 1974.

This code is a combination of alphanumeric and special characters. It has 9 bars and spaces; three are wide and the other 6 are narrow. In this code 3 out of 9 total bars and spaces are wide and thus is named Code 3 of 9. Each character has 3 wide bars (represented by “1”) and 6 narrow bars(represented by “0”) which are separated by an intercharacter gap. Together, these wide and narrow elements create a pattern which is used to determine its equivalent numeric value. This intercharacter gap contains no information as such and its width is similar to that of the narrow element. For a barcode reader to read the code without errors the width of the wide element should at least be twice of that of the narrow element. The Code 39 barcode is generally readable by any barcode scanner.

Code 39 is self-checking, discrete code and it utilizes start and stop characters to mark the beginning and end of the code. For e.g. To print a barcode of BRANDNAME, it needs to be printed as *BRANDNAME*. Code 39 also allows bi-directional scanning.

Allowed Characters:

• Capital letters from “A to Z”

• Numbers from “0 to 9”

• Space character

• Special characters like “-. $ / + %”

•Asterisk “*” is used as both start and stop character

Use: This code is used for worldwide shipping & packaging, medical, electronics, telecommunications, industrial, commercial and government applications

Advantages of code 39:

• Readable by any barcode scanner

•Helps in quick labelling

• Code 39 is easy and secure and not prone to errors while encoding and decoding


Hence, this concludes the definition of Code 39 along with its overview.

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