An optical barcode reader is an electronic scanner that can readily read coded barcodes and then send the information to your computer through the serial port or another barcode reader installed on another device. Like a traditional flatbed scanner, it usually consists of a small light source, a sensitive lens, and a LED indicator translating electrical impulses into digital signals. The electrical impulses are then converted to laser pulses and displayed on the computer screen as either a bar code or symbol.
Barcode readers come in several varieties depending on the kind of information you want to encode. Some scanners can even encode the standard barcodes in multiple codes per line, allowing multi-line data. Some barcode scanners are capable of encoding holographic and digital barcodes. It is important, though, to know how to operate a barcode scanner, so you know which settings to use and which to discard.