"I think the statistics today talk about 609 million credit cards that are in existence, just here in the U.S.," says Ron Klein, the inventor of the magnetic credit card strip. "When I hear those kinds of numbers, I almost have to be apologetic." Even though his invention changed credit cards forever, he said he never made much money off the patent.
Like any good inventor, Klein identified a problem and created a solution. When Klein returned to the states after serving in the Korean War, he found that the way stores were handling so-called "charge purchases" was needlessly complicated. Klein used similar technology that was used in reel-to-reel tape recorders to create readable strips on credit cards.
Don't feel too bad for Klein's lack of monetary gain, though. He made more than enough money from his other inventions, including a "nutrition system" to raise chickens more efficiently. Today, at 77 years old, he is known as "the grandfather of possibilities." He said he knows that credit cards may not live on much longer, but he's pleased with his invention's longevity.