Magnetic Ink Character Recognition
In today's high tech world, nearly everyone takes electronic banking for granted and seldom gives a second thought to automated teller machines, electronic funds transfers, on-line statements, or even utilizing the computer to pay their bills electronically. However, few, if any, realize that these capabilities can be traced back to events that occurred over half a century ago and to the invention and proliferation of Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR). MICR was devised to allow computers to electronically read and recognize consumer and business account information for the purpose of automating check processing and to automate the debit and credit of bank accounts electronically (http://www.rosistem.ro/www/technologies/micr/). Although most people were unaware they were using it, MICR could well be considered the first electronic banking innovation used by consumers. It is said that necessity is the "mother of invention" and that is certainly true in the case of MICR. MICR was invented in direct response to the economic boom that followed World War II. Prior to that time, the vast majority of people used cash to complete their financial transactions and the use of checking accounts were limited primarily to businesses and the wealthy. As such, processing the quantity of checks that cleared each day was, at worst, a minor inconvenience to the banking industry and could be accomplished by a small number of people using an entirely manual process. However, as more and more Americans of the period experienced a significant increase in both prosperity and purchasing power, the use of cash wasn't always practical and, as a result, the number of checking accounts increased significantly and checks became as common as the use of cash. In a very short time, banks were faced with the overwhelming burden of trying to process thousands of checks on a daily basis using the existing manual intensive processes...
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