Inside Deep Throat Still

On June 26, 1974, the first product with a UPC barcode was scanned at a Marsh Supermarkets store in Troy, Ohio. The randomly selected item from a cart filled with varied scannable goods was a 10-pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum, and that’s of enough historical significance that the pack is now in the Smithsonian. But that’s not the only part of the story of the retail game changer that’s interesting. The path to the barcode revolution was long, and it involved scientists and grocery executives and some inspiration from the movies. And yet so few films have been inspired by the UPC technology for anything more than barcode tattoos on heads, necks and arms in sci-fi dystopias. Typically those markings are for keeping track of people, but in a classic bit from Mike Leigh’s Naked, David Thewlis’s character goes on about how in the future we’ll have barcodes on our hand or forehead instead of paper and plastic currency, to pay for items that also have “the ubiquitous barcode that you’ll find on every bog roll and packet of johnnies and every poxy pork pie.” Read ahead to learn about how the advent of the sound cinema and the rise of the porn film — with the notorious Deep Throat — figured into the development of the Universal Product Code as well as its legacy in the form of an Errol Morris short, a Jude Law feature, a Star Trek reboot and one of the most clever interactive online movie projects in recent years.


Oscar is naked. So are many of the stars who went home with him. We take a look at just a few who memorably shed their clothes and ended up with nominations and Gold.

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