VeriFone Credit Card Reader, Australia, late 1990s

VeriFone Credit Card Reader, Australia, late 1990s

Usage conditions apply
Object Name
Stripe terminal
credit card reader
Credit Card Reader
date made
late 1990s
place made
Physical Description
plastic (overall material)
metal (overall material)
rubber (overall material)
overall: 14.5 cm x 14 cm x 5 cm; 5 23/32 in x 5 1/2 in x 1 31/32 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Mastercard International Inc.
See more items in
Work and Industry: National Numismatic Collection
The Value of Money
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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This is a variant on the Verifone Tranz 330 which was designed and engineered by Verifone in the USA in the late 1980s. I was the lead Industrial Designer for Verifone from 1985 through the nineties. The Tranz series is an evolution of the original Zon Junior and Zon Junior Plus. The Tranz series was among the first business products that departed from the then ubiquitous putty color used by early IBM personal computers. This was an attempt to create a neutral color palette that blended with the range of other Point of Sale equipment colors which made for a messy collection of retail equipment at the checkout station. The use of the dark gray predated Apple Computer's use in their early portable computers. Other design firsts in this product series includes the first use of an integral molded in magnetic card reader to reduce cost. At the time other manufacturers used OEM card reader modules and designed their enclosures to use them. The integral card reader used a simplified magnetic head mount (as well as a magnetic head adapted from consumer cassette tape transports) and moved the signal processing electronics to the product's main PCB. The cost savings was huge- the OEM module sold for more than US$7.50 in large quantities and Verifone was able to reduce the cost to below US$1.00 Another significant departure from accepted norms in the 1980s was the use of a telephone keypad pattern instead of the 10-key calculator pad, which was the standard for business transaction equipment at the time. I felt that the 10-key pattern would be unfamiliar to many users whereas the telephone pattern was familiar to all. Overall the design intent was to create a simple, easy to use device that was minimally intimidating to users. At the time of the introduction of the original Zon Jr personal computers were far from common, and a decision was made to present the product as a business appliance rather than a computing device. The familiar telephone style keyboard, bright vacuum fluorescent display (instead of an inexpensive low contrast LCD), informal proportions and asymmetrical layout were combined to create a non-threatening device. Originally these credit card terminals had simple keyboard layouts- the first had only a standard 12 key telco pattern; later models added 4 function keys and the last added screen addressable keys below the display. The most popular were the Tranz 330 series, of which millions were made. These devices were deliberately targeted at the bottom of the market and held more than half of the US market through the 1980s. Hewlett-Packard acquired Verifone and felt the devices too simple and stopped supporting them, inadvertently creating a third-party industry that provided hardware and software support. Plastic injection mold tooling was sold off to the molders themselves, leading to the production of inexpensive brand new cases, magnetic card readers and keyboards which were sold to equipment refurbishers. Since the only components that wore out could be easily replaced with parts from the original tooling, a like-new device could be made for a few dollars. Ignoring the popular, low end market cost Hewlett-Packard significant market share as these third party providers filled the demand for cheap, reliable product that did what the retailers needed and little more.

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