Since 1946, with its announcement of Chinese and Arabic ideographic character typewriters, IBM has worked to overcome cultural and physical barriers to the use of technology. As part of these ongoing efforts, IBM introduces in 1979 the 3270 Kanji Display Terminal; the System/34 with an ideographic feature, which processes more than 11,000 Japanese and Chinese characters; and the Audio Typing Unit for sight-impaired typists.
In the mid-1970s, IBM developed the Universal Product Code (UPC), a method for embedding pricing and identification information on individual retail items. The holographic scanner technology in IBM's supermarket checkout station, introduced in 1979, is one of the first major commercial uses of holography as "wraparound" light rays read the UPC stripes on merchandise. IBM's support of the UPC concept helps lead to its widespread acceptance by retail and other industries around the world.
IBM introduces the first disk drive to feature thin-film inductive heads and a run-length-limited (RLL) coding scheme (IBM 3370). Thin-film heads led to a new era in higher-performance recording head design, while the "2-7" RLL code permitted higher performance while reducing errors. This leads to higher performance recording heads at reduced cost and establishes IBM's leadership in "areal density" -- storing the most data in the least space.
IBM announces the 4300 processor, featuring multilayer ceramic packaging and 64Kb memory chips that provide the densest packaging of memory and logic circuits available in intermediate-sized IBM systems; the 3279 color display terminal; and the 3287 color printer.
The first IBM retail shops, called IBM Product Centers, open in London and Buenos Aires.
DiscoVision Associates, a joint venture with MCA, Inc., is formed to develop, manufacture and market video discs and video disc players.