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A Quick History Of Slow Credit Cards

In the mid-'60s, the airline industry had a problem. The 747, the first real jumbo jet, had just been introduced. There were more passengers at the airport than before. More passengers meant longer lines. And that was especially bad because this was the era when customers paid for their tickets right there at the airport — often by credit card.

Back then, paying by credit cards was a whole ordeal. The airlines had to call up the bank manually in order to confirm the card. With lines growing, the airlines needed a faster process. So they called IBM to ask for help, and that's where our story (which also features some French fraudsters and a hippie inventor) begins.

Listen to the original Planet Money podcast episode here! Subscribe to our video series here — and, while you're at it, subscribe to our podcast.

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