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"I am very proud to announce Barcode Mill
has been awarded Millennium Product status."|
Lee Allen, Barcode Mill.
At a spectacular meeting at the Millennium Dome near London on Tuesday 14th December 1999 UK Prime Minister Tony Blair announced the products selected for the last and final tranche of the Millennium Products award scheme operated on behalf of the Government by the Design Council.
Andrew Summers, Chief Executive of the Design Council said: 'We offer our warmest congratulations to Lee Allen and his team for the selection of Barcode Mill as a Millennium Product. We sincerely hope that Barcode Mill will be a big success and we hope that Millennium Products status will encourage further successful innovations.'
In September 1997 Prime Minister Tony Blair set British Companies a challenge. He asked them to demonstrate the UK can create world leading products and services exemplifying our strengths in innovation, creativity and design.
The Design Council who were charged with the operation of the scheme laid out the criteria. Millennium Products have to be pioneering in their field, forward thinking and challenging; creative and innovative. Products are chosen by a panel of leading figures from business, design, engineering, science and culture. Only those selected are entitled to carry the prestigeous Millennium Products marque.
|"...only those selected as Millennium Products are entitled to carry the marque."|
Lee Allen, a consultant in Auto ID and Barcode industry for over fifteen years and an early enthusiast for the Internet already had the outline of an idea and decided to accept the challenge. When asked about the ideas behind Barcode Mill he had this to say...
I knew from long experience in the Auto ID industry that the creation of
barcodes is often problematic. Particularly where the application requires
every barcode to be different. With the advent of the Internet I realised
the ability to tag
a web page with a different barcode each time it is viewed would be crucial
for many e-commerce and industrial applications.|
Barcode Mill is unique because the solution is universal across the whole Internet. It does not matter what computer or web browser the customer is using. There is no need for special software, fonts or browser plug-ins on the client machine.
Barcode Mill enables Web sites to sell tickets and distribute other types of document via the Internet. The document, which could be anything from a theatre ticket to an insurance certificate or even a bill from a utility company, is printed by the purchaser himself on a normal computer printer. Effectively taking delivery of the document immediately and avoiding, for example, waiting for the postman or queuing at the box office. We worked very hard - now after two years Barcode Mill is a reality.
|"...queuing at the box office."|
Barcode Mill was created by a small team of Internet/computer enthusiasts from Altek Instruments Ltd. Altek is a small busy company located to the West of London which has specialised in barcode related activity for nearly twenty years. It is responsible for the Barcodeman web site amongst others.
Special mention must be made of Tom Allen the youngest member of the team. Tom is particularly enthusiastic about Barcode Mill and contributed many hours of his free time to the project. He was full of ideas and suggestions and without his input Barcode Mill would not have materialised in its current form.
When he heard Barcode Mill was to be shown at the Millenium Experience exhibition in Greenwich Tom said
It's been hard work fitting it in with my school work but the end result was worth it. I'm very excited that something I helped to create should be on public display at the Dome.
|"...Tom Allen - the youngest member of the team."|
Tom has a passion for computer graphics and designed the 'rotating cogs' image which was adopted as the Barcode Mill logo. Tom was only 14 years old when the project started and is now studying for his 'A' level exams at The Hollyfield School in Surbiton. He hopes to have a career in Physics.
When asked about future developments Lee Allen commented...
|Before releasing Barcode Mill as a licenseable product we ran a free trial system for more than a year. We wanted to determine that everything worked as well as we thought it should and to ensure the software was stable. Many people and organisations took advantage of the free service and we received valuable feedback along with a number of suggestions for enhancements in the future. Obviously I do not want to discuss our future plans in detail but you can be sure there will be developments. Right from the start we wrote a number of 'hooks' into the code. We wanted the ability to make updates relatively easily without disturbing the core code which we now know to be stable. Companies who purchase a licence for Barcode Mill automatically qualify for the enhanced product. We have decided to continue the 'free use' service for small scale users though of course it is not possible to provide the same scale of support which licensed users enjoy.|
Visitors to the Millennium Dome in Greenwich (London) will be able to see and hear about Barcode Mill. It is to be featured at the Spiral of Innovation during Year 2000 Millennium Experience celebrations.
|"Spiral of Innovation. Situated to the north of the Dome."|
The Spiral of Innovation is a technologically advanced piece of 'land art' sitting in the Meridian Quarter with commanding views of the Thames and the Dome itself. It encourages visitors to look out beyond the site to think about innovation around the UK and is in keeping with the experimental treatment of installations inside the Dome.
|"Spiral of Innovation."|
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|Barcodemill is a trademark of Altek Instruments Ltd, Walton-Thames, UK|