I recently saw photos online taken from supposedly Soviet Russian shop, displaying a number of products as well as other interior of the shop. The cashier machines look extremely mechanical, but there was one product on the shelves that seemed to have a barcode on it, and according to other commenters, this product was manufactured in USSR (it is a cheap variant of eau de cologne). However, the photo was of poor quality, and I can't really see if it is indeed a barcode or just some striped decoration

Did Soviet Union ever start using barcodes, or did this happen only later when more western products were available in the markets?

EDIT; here is a link to the page http://www.doodoo.ru/interesting/12933-soviet-shop.html. The picture I'm talking is the very first on this page:

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  • Hello & welcome. I'd guess yes (without actually asking people who know) by this list of GS1 code numbers.
    – gktscrk
    Commented May 31, 2020 at 20:22
  • 2
    Any chance to include the photos (or a link to them)?
    – tum_
    Commented May 31, 2020 at 20:38
  • Added link to said photo
    – tuomas
    Commented Jun 1, 2020 at 5:58

1 Answer 1


Soviet Union did not have a barcode system, at least not one with any significance. However, GS1 Russia was founded in 1990, so technically you could say that it was possible for some soviet goods to receive barcodes in that last year before USSR was gone.

However, the linked photo is not from soviet times. It's a photo of a modern Soviet-themed shop. The bar code isn't even the most obvious part here - that particular brand of cheese started production in 1998, and that logo was only registered in 2004. Here's the source of the photos. The commenters pointed out a bunch of other anachronic goofs there besides the barcode.

  • 2
    Totally anecdotal. In the 1980's I was installing software in a new customer's premises while another company were installing these new-fangled Cash Registers with barcode readers integrated into them. The couldn't get one product to scan, so they called the manufacturer and asked what type of barcode they were reading (there were many different codes). Eventually they got an answer: the Marketing Director had insisted that have something that looked like a barcode on the packaging; their packaging dept knew nothing about barcodes and so printed random stripes. Commented Jun 1, 2020 at 17:06
  • coincides with my experience in the USSR in the late 1980s during several tours. No barcodes anywhere, just babushkas punching in prices on usually mechanical teller machines.
    – jwenting
    Commented Jun 3, 2020 at 9:52

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