George Joseph Laurer

George Joseph Laurer

September 23, 1925 – December 5, 2019

George J. Laurer, 94, beloved father and inventor of the UPC bar code, died December 5, 2019 at his home in Wendell, NC. Born in New York City, NY, he was son to the late George and Irma Rudiger Laurer.  After surviving polio in his teens, he served in the Army during WWII. He graduated from the University of Maryland in 1951 and became a groundbreaking electrical engineer, working at IBM for over three decades. He was preceded in death by his devoted wife, Marilyn Slocum Laurer, and his sister, Alma Laurer Albert, daughter-in-law, Sheree Laurer

Laurer is widely recognized as the inventor of the Universal Product Code that appears on virtually every product sold worldwide.  He was inducted into the University of Maryland Engineering Innovation Hall of Fame in 1991. A few years later, the 25th anniversary of his invention was celebrated at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Laurer was also inducted into the University of Maryland Alumni Hall of Fame in the year 2000, and he received the prestigious School of Engineering’s 125th Anniversary Medal on November 21, 2019.  During his career at IBM, he also produced over a dozen patents for scanning and computer memory devices, including one of the first handheld wand scanners for reading barcodes in 1976.

George Laurer’s work has touched and improved the daily lives of nearly everyone in the world. As a father, his caring and selfless focus on his family shall be deeply missed. He is survived by his daughter, Debra Laurer Cook of Clayton, NC; son, Craig G Laurer of Danbury, CT, son, Mark K Laurer of Lexington, KY, son, Jonathan H Laurer (Tanya) of Raleigh, NC; grandchildren, Nigel F Laurer, Jasper H Laurer, India, Europa, Dubravka Zoe Laurer; great grandchildren, Xaelia, Victoria and Zachary Laurer.  

Please consider making a memorial donation to The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.

Funeral 11 am, Monday, Strickland Funeral Home & Crematory Chapel, 211 W. Third St., Wendell with visitation from 10-11 am, prior to the service.  Burial will follow in Montlawn Memorial Park.  Full obituary at


  • Kurt, Mary Jane, Joey and Sofia Laurer Posted December 6, 2019 10:15 am

    To George’s Family, please accept our sincere condolences on the passing of George. We fondly remember his and Marilyn’s visit with us in NY and through phone/email about the family history.

  • Darryll Pines, Dean of Clark School of Engineering Posted December 8, 2019 10:47 am

    On behalf of all of his friends and alumni at the University of Maryland, we extend our sincerest condolences to the entire Laurer Family. George was a true giant in terms of innovation and will forever remembered for contributions to humanity. We were grateful to get to know him and be in his prensence.

  • Phil Byrd – North Myrtle Beach/Raleigh Posted December 9, 2019 3:49 pm

    My thoughts and prayers are with the Laurer family and friends. May the Lord give you comfort and peace during this time

  • KELLEY CHAPPELL Posted December 10, 2019 3:26 am

    Loving condolences to Jonathan and his family. George exuded the humanist approach all great scientists share. He and Marilyn raised terrific children with boundless love. They were gracious hosts, tremendous conversationalists, witty, & fun loving. Your dad’s numerous personal, and professional accomplishments are eternal. Peace be upon you my friend.

  • Mark Neuenschwander Posted December 13, 2019 11:23 am

    What an honor to have found friendship with George! While his skillful and faithful work brought us the UPC bar code that changed the world, he told me at the time he hadn’t a clue that it would impact patient safety. And yet it did! And when I got to meet him and show him how the barcode was being used in healthcare, he was engaged, enthralled, and elated. George became a steady encouragment of our work in promoting ba codes for positively identifying patients and mediations, preventing patients from being harmed and caregivers from unwittingly harming patients . What a delightful time it was for me to interview him before hundreds of healthcare providers who were reaping the rewards of his labor. And our lunches at the Kingfish and our cross-country phone calls were always interesting, fun, and helpful. I will forever be grateful for this good man’s work and his welcoming me as a friend. I will miss him and seek to extend his invaluable work in this world.

    • Mark Laurer Posted December 16, 2019 10:17 pm

      Mark, Thank you for your memories. I assisted Dad (and Mom) to attend your unsummit in Louisville. He really enjoyed being interviewed, and treasured your friendship. It was a pleasure meeting you in Louisville.

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