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Monday, June 8, 2009

The evolution of credit cards

Slate's Caitlin McDevitt has a visual history of American credits cards, starting with the original Diner's Club card:
to today's personalized credit cards:
Proof that not all change is progress. Here is a less visual, and more educational, history of credit cards from Time Magazine:

Charge cards have been around since the 1920s, when service stations, department stores and hotel chains began offering them to automobile-loving consumers who didn't want to trek back to their hometown bank to get cash. But it wasn't until the postwar boom of the 1950s that credit cards really caught on. In 1950, Diners Club issued its first card--made of cardboard--for use in 27 restaurants in New York City. A year later, nearly 20,000 Americans carried it in their wallet. American Express, which had specialized in traveler's checks, created its card in 1958; the same year, Bank of America mailed its first 60,000 BankAmericards (now Visas) to residents of Fresno, Calif.--a harbinger of the aggressive marketing tactics used today.

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