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Magnetic Stripe Technology
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Magnetic stripe technology is everywhere. We use cards with magnetic stripes on them everyday without even thinking about it. The technology has been with us for many years, but there are still many new things going on in the industry.

The first use of magnetic stripes on cards was in the early 1960's. London Transit Authority installed a magnetic stripe system in the London Underground (UK). By the late 1960's BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) (USA) had installed a paper-based ticket the same size as the credit cards we use today. This system used a stored value on the magnetic stripe, which was read and rewritten every time the card was used.

Credit cards were first issued in 1951, but it wasn't until the establishment of standards in 1970 that the magnetic stripe became a factor in the use of the cards. Today financial cards all follow the ISO standards to ensure read reliability worldwide and along with transit cards constitute the largest users of magnetic stripe cards. With the advent of new technologies many people have predicted the demise of the magnetic stripe. However, with the investment in the current infrastructure this is not likely to be any time soon.

Magnetic stripe technology provides the ideal solution to many aspects of our life. It is very inexpensive and readily adaptable to many functions. The standardization of high coercivity for the financial markets has provided the industry with a new lease on life. This coupled with the advent of the security techniques now available means that many applications can expect to be using magnetic stripe technology for the next ten to twenty years.

Magentic Stripe Technology Attributes and Limitations

  • Well established read/write technology
  • Low to medium storage capability
  • Low cost data carrier media and supporting hardware
  • Range of security developments, to suit a range of application specific needs
  • Reasonably durable materials, particularly for card-based products
  • Contact read equipment, generally requiring a card-based carrier form

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