Barbie is a fashion doll manufactured by the American toy company Mattel, Inc. and launched in March 1959. American businesswoman Ruth Handler is credited with the creation of the doll using a German doll called Bild Lilli as her inspiration.
Early credit cards in the U.S., of which BankAmericard was the most prominent example, were mass-produced and mass mailed unsolicited to bank customers who were thought to be good credit risks. They have been mailed off to unemployables, drunks, narcotics addicts and to compulsive debtors, a process President Johnson’s Special Assistant Betty Furness found very like “giving sugar to diabetics”. These mass mailings were known as “drops” in banking terminology, and were outlawed in 1970 due to the financial chaos they caused. However, by the time the law came into effect, approximately 100 million credit cards had been dropped into the U.S. population. After 1970, only credit card applications could be sent unsolicited in mass mailings.
Before the computerization of credit card systems in America, using a credit card to pay at a merchant was significantly more complicated than it is today. Each time a consumer wanted to use a credit card, the merchant would have to call their bank, who in turn had to call the credit card company, which then had to have an employee manually look up the customer’s name and credit balance. This system was computerized in 1973 under the leadership of Dee Hock, the first CEO of Visa, allowing transaction time to decrease substantially to less than one minute. However, until always-connected payment terminals became ubiquitous at the beginning of the 21st century, it was common for a merchant to accept a charge, especially below a threshold value or from a known and trusted customer, without verifying it by phone. Books with lists of stolen card numbers were distributed to merchants who were supposed in any case to check cards against the list before accepting them, as well as verifying the signature on the charge slip against that on the card. Merchants who failed to take the time to follow the proper verification procedures were liable for fraudulent charges, but because of the cumbersome nature of the procedures, merchants would often simply skip some or all of them and assume the risk for smaller transactions.