1968 Retrospect: Credit Cards

According to the 1968 The World Book Year Book, “Bank Credit Card programs, despite a faltering start 10 years earlier, were flourishing in 1968.” Several new card programs joined the great credit race in 1968–most notably the Interbank Card group (later to become MasterCard). These new cards were introduced to compete with the successful Bank Americard (later to become Visa). In 1970, MasterCard was the industry leader. They remained in this position for about a decade until Visa’s innovative and aggressive marketing finally earned it the industry’s top spot.

In 1968, US credit card debt totalled $8 billion (in current dollars). As of January 2008, that total had ballooned to  $947 billion. For perspective, that is $8,094 per household. There’s nothing more American than crushing debt, right? Well, gotta run. I’m just about up to the pay window at McDonalds and I need to find my Visa card.

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1968 Retrospect: New Words

The English language is always evolving. New words are added and others slowly fade away. In 1968, The World Book choose words to be added to the 1969 edition of its dictionary. These words were no doubt in use for several years prior to 1968, but they finally gained common enough acceptance to finally be recognized.

It’s quite a long list, but I have pared it down to the more interesting ones. Below are some that you will certainly recognize, then some that never quite caught on.

Here are some words that you will certainly recognize:

  • arm twister
  • ax grinder
  • beefcake
  • brain-picking
  • character assassination
  • day-tripper
  • diploma mill
  • fertility drug
  • guinea-pig
  • handgun
  • hippie
  • in-joke (now inside joke of course)
  • instant replay
  • meat-and-potatoes
  • Medicaid
  • plain-Jane
  • R and R
  • speed reading
  • trendsetter
  • tween
  • zap

Here are some that apparently didn’t catch on after all. (Warning: a few of these are racial insensitive and rightly no longer used. They are only here as a historical study.)

  • Bob’s your uncle – you know the rest; that’s all there is to it
  • breen – a brown-tinted green color
  • Chinese homer – a home run made on a hit that travels only a short distance
  • daymare – an experience that is like a bad dream
  • GUM – state-operated department store in the Soviet Union
  • nebbish – a drab, clumsly, inconsequential person
  • nudnik – a tiresome, annoying person
  • rice Christian – an Asian or African native who converts to Christianity soley to receive food provided by missionaries
  • roadeo – a contest or exhibition of skill in driving automobiles, trucks, etc.
  • slanguage – slangy language
  • squaw winter – a brief period of prematurely cold weather in early autumn
  • telephonitis – an excessive or abnormal urge to make telephone calls