30 May '12, 8pm

The Long Life and Imminent Death of the Mag-Stripe Card

In 1967, the airlines were flying Boeing 727s and Douglas DC-8s. Air travel was still special, and the airlines were raking in cash. But a problem loomed, and it was potentially calamitous. The airlines had placed their orders for the first wide-body aircraft—the 747 and the DC-10—and these giant planes would dramatically boost the number of people arriving simultaneously at customer service counters. So to prevent chaos at those counters, the airlines had to find a way to speed up ticket sales and passenger processing. Banks, too, were facing difficulties. Bank-backed credit cards were surging in popularity, and merchants were swamped with paperwork: Every time a customer charged an item, the merchant had to write out a charge slip and make a phone call to get the charge authorized. And all-night convenience stores and even the growing popularity of late-night television ...

Full article: http://spectrum.ieee.org/computing/hardware/the-long-life...

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