This history on the origination of credit cards was published by the always interesting podcast 99% Invisible back in January. From the website introducing this podcast episode:
In September 1958, Bank of America began an experiment—one that would have far reaching effects on our lives and on the economy. After careful consideration, they decided to conduct this experiment in Fresno, California. The presumption was that no one was paying much attention to Fresno, so if the plan failed, it wouldn’t get a lot of media attention.
Bank of America sent out 60,000 pieces of mail to people in Fresno. Inside was a little plastic object that has become in equal parts emblematic of opportunity, convenience, and debt.
It was a card offering a $500 line of credit.
Have a listen below.