Loss of a Great Man – Alan Haberman

Alan Haberman's first claim to fame should be that he was instrumental in bringing bar code scanning to our lives. Although he did not invent bar codes, he lead the charge to get the U.P.C. symbol accepted by everyone and was part of the movement that has made bar code scanning in retail a part of our everyday life. Alan was president of Hills-Korvette Supermarkets and then the CEO of First National Supermarkets and in the early 1970s he became the chairman of an executive committee in the Uniform Code Council (now GS1) to select a standard symbol. The committee reviewed more than a dozen symbols and eventually chose what we recognize today. The first time the bar code was used in areal system was on June 26, 1974 when a pack of Wrigley's Juicy Fruit was purchased and scanned at Marsh Supermarket in Troy OH. That package is currently in the Smithsonian Institute's National Museum of American History.

Alan was a founder member of the UCC and he became a member of the Board of Governors. His work did not stop with bar codes and he was one of the first people to recognize the importance of RFID. He led an investigation for a University to help solve some of the problems with RFID. He setup an alliance with Massachusetts Institute of Technology and funded the Auto-ID Labs to investigate the creation of a system for retail use of RFID. This later became EPCglobal and the Electronic Product Code (EPC) system was created.Alan in Edinburgh

In 1996 talks were started with an intent to create a home in ISO for AIDC standards. The Uniform Code Council was chosen to be the Secretariat for this international work and Alan was chosen to be the first chairman of the committee. He retained that position for the next nine years, leading the standardization efforts with a force that everyone rallied around. He was well respected in the position and even when some health issues put him on the sidelines for a while, he continued to drive everyone forward from his home office.

I first met Alan Haberman when he was chosen to be the first chairman of ISO/IEC SC 31. He became a great friend and a mentor to me and several others. His straightforward way of doing business didn't always make him the most popular guy in town, but his knowledge and management skills always won through. Alan's interest in the technologies did not stop when he passed on the chairmanship of the committee. He continued to call many of us with questions and ideas. He even acted as a confidant for many of us as we tried to resolve issues.

Alan passed away on Sunday (12 June, 2011) at age 81, he will be missed by many of us. Rest in Peace, Alan.