The History of Plastic by sofiaie


									The History of Plastic

Now considered an essential part of everyday life, credit cards are a relatively recent phenomenon. One
of the earliest predecessors to modern credit cards can be traced back to the mid-1860s when the Singer
Co. introduced the selling of sewing machines on an installment plan. In the 1920s and 1930s, hotels and
oil companies joined department stores in issuing charge cards to customers.

Today’s modern charge card is said to have emerged in February 1950. As businessman Frank
McNamara finished dinner at Major's Grill in Manhattan, he realized he'd left his wallet in another suit.
What would have been an embarrassment to most, sparked an idea with McNamara. At a later meal at
the same restaurant, McNamara proposed the idea of paying his dining bill with a small cardboard card
that bore his signature, which he called a diner's club card. The restaurant agreed, and with that,
McNamara founded Diners Club.

Two hundred people signed up for the first card, and 14 Manhattan restaurants agreed to accept it. A
year later, 42,000 individuals were carrying the card and more than 330 U.S. businesses were accepting

The first cards offered were charge cards, which meant that balances had to be paid in full each month.
Franklin National Bank in New York introduced bank credit cards, with their buy-now-pay-later
convenience, in 1951.

The credit card has evolved from a novelty for the affluent to a virtual necessity for the average
consumer's everyday purchases. Today, most rely on them to pay for travel, gasoline, and even
groceries. Without a credit card, it’s difficult — if not impossible — to rent a car, reserve a hotel, or even
rent a DVD.

An estimated 157 million Americans have at least one credit card, close to the adult population of some
200 million. By contrast, 46 million have a valid passport and some 185 million have a driver's license.
Key Dates in Credit Card History
 1950 — Frank McNamara, owner and president of Hamilton Credit Corp., dines out in Manhattan and
   tries settling his bill using a small cardboard card with his signature. He later founds Diners Club.
 1951 — Diners Club claims 42,000 people are carrying the paper card in several major U.S. cities. It
   is accepted by 330 businesses and eight car rental agencies. A discount fee is deducted from
   payments to merchants and paid to Diner's Club. Membership costs $3 a year, and balances must be
   paid in full each month.
 1952 — Franklin National Bank of New York introduces the first bank credit card, which allows
   cardholders to buy now and pay later.
 1955 — A hundred banks are now issuing credit cards. Cardholders have a 30-day "grace period"
   free of any interest.
 1958 — Bank of America introduces its BankAmericard in Fresno, Calif. Also, the American Express
   charge card is launched.
 1959 — Bank of America expands the BankAmericard program across California. Chase Manhattan
   Bank of New York quickly follows suit. American Express introduces the first plastic charge card.
 1960s — The growth of the credit card industry is fueled by agreements between states allowing
   banks to branch across state lines.
 1961 — Bank of America barely escapes closing its card operation because of operational problems
   — its sales slips are sorted by hand.
 1966 — Bank of America announces plans to license BankAmericard nationwide. Competitors
   including Bank of California, Wells Fargo, and United California Bank form a second national system,
   called Interbank Card Association, in which they agree to accept one another's local credit cards.
   Unlike BankAmericard licensees, ICA members keep their own bank names on their cards.
   MasterCharge is launched, and 36.5 million cards are issued in the first year.
 1967 — The first use of an ATM, the Barclaycash Machine, occurs at a branch of Barclay's Bank in
   Enfield, England.

   1977 — BankAmericard changes its name to Visa.
   1979 — MasterCharge announces plans to change its name to MasterCard.
   1981 — MasterCard introduces the first premium "gold" card.
   1987 — U.S. airlines offer credit cards to their frequent fliers, who can accumulate bonus miles by
    using the cards.
   1990 — Life magazine calls Frank McNamara, who died in 1957 at age 40, one of the 100 most
    influential Americans of the 20th century.
   2000 — Visa issued 688 million cards worldwide.
   2001 — Visa completes the world's first secure payment transaction using a Palm™ handheld
   2005 — There are 929.6 million General Purpose (credit and debit) cards issued by Visa,
    MasterCard, American Express and Discover in the United States.


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