A device specialized for reading barcodes and converting them into digital data. Pen scanners, also known as wand scanners, were the first type of scanner developed in the 1970s. The tip of the pen must physically touch the barcode. Later, laser scanners allowed the code to be read at a distance from the head of the device, enabling supermarkets to read round cans and flexible packages more easily. The most common type today is the visible laser diode (VLD) scanner, which emits as many as 50 laser beams simultaneously to capture the image at any angle. See barcode, mobile tagging and point of sale.