Who Invented the Credit Card Machine?

By Jade Balle

  • Overview

    Given that there are several different types of credit card machines in existence today, there are many different inventors from the industry. While some of these machines do not have one individual who is designated as the inventor, they can at least be traced to a company that first introduced the machine to the world.
  • Manual Imprinters

    Manual credit card machines are those rectangular devices that require you to place a credit card and carbon slip in order to make an imprint for processing. In the past, the slips were sent into a bank for approval, but nowadays they can be processed online or over the phone. The first manual imprinters were used in the 1930s with what was called a Charga Plate--the plate that is used to imprint important information about the merchant onto the carbon-backed slip. While the first credit card imprinting machine is believed to have been developed in the 1930s, the first patent for a "credit card imprinter" was developed in 1977 by Richard B. Feldman (Source: PatentStorm.us and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Patent # 4056054).
  • Dial-Up Terminals

    Dial-up terminals were first developed by Visa in 1979. These terminals allowed merchants to get instant approval from the credit card company with the use of a phone line. The magnetic strips on credit cards at the time allowed the credit card holder's information to be transmitted immediately when the card was swiped through this new credit card machine. Later, Verifone, Hypercom and Lipman became the first big credit card machine manufacturers to redevelop the dial-up terminals into the fast, efficient machines they are today.

  • Online Terminals

    The history of the online terminal is closely tied to the history of the Internet. The computer is considered to be the credit card machine in this case, with an Internet connection replacing the phone line in dial-up terminals. Many online processors lay claim to being the first online credit processing companies, such as 1st National Processing; they have been in the business since 1994. Authorize.net, another popular online credit card processor, started offering these services in 1996.
  • Cellphone Terminals

    Another type of credit card machine is the cell phone. Thompson Merchant Solutions (TMS, Inc.), which was established in 2003 according to the Better Business Bureau, was the first widely known credit card processing company to offer credit card acceptance using a cell phone. The merchant can simply enter a customer's credit card number into his cell phone instead of using a physical terminal.
  • Benefits

    Credit card machines have helped businesses increase their sales substantially. PayNetSystems, Inc. estimates that credit card acceptance can increase sales at a business by up to 40 percent. The continuous innovation of credit card machines by ingenious individuals and businesses has helped these businesses keep up with their customers and adapt to a more demanding, fast-paced sales environment.
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