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Types of Cards Used In Ireland.


Over the last 11 years callcards have proven to be quite successful, and have proven themselves as a great alternative from having to worry about the hassle of carrying around lose change in order to make a phone call. So how did callcards come about. Well before Telecom Eireann jumped into the idea of coinless phone calls, they conducted a number of trials in Dublin, Limerick and Galway and their surrounding areas to see if they would be successful...


At the end of these three trials Telecom adopted a totally different system, the smart card which was introduced into Ireland in the early 90's. However what did all these cards look like, and who developed them. Well check them all out in this easy to follow chart.


Dublin Plessey Trial Cards.
Developed by G.P.T. Telecom. The Dublin Plessey cards were of standard I.S.O. magnetic cards and are manufactured from several layers of  "PVC". Once the cards have been printed, the back is fitted with a magnetic medium and are encoded, which is used to store any units remaining in the card.

After the card has been encoded the card is laminated with a sheet of transparent plastic on both sides. This stores the printed image and the data embedded into the card. Finally the notch is cut into the card so that blind people could insert the card the right way round.

Dublin 5 Unit

The cards were available in 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 unit denominations.

Dublin 5 Unit Card No: 1001



Limerick "Autelca Trial Cards."
The Autelca trial began on the 9th of February 1989. These wafer thin cards were both flimsy and reportedly un-safe and easy to crack...

Developed by Autelca the Limerick trial cards are of the same design to cards used throughout the world. A total number of 31 phone-booths were installed throughout various part's of Limerick city and county for this trial.

Telecom also used the Autelca trial as means to sponsor the I.M.I. conference of 1989 by releasing two cards(20 and 50 unit card) to mark their involved with the institute.

The cards were available in 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 unit denominations.


I.M.I Conference 1989 (20 Unit)
I.M.I. card of 1989.

Card No: 1019



Galway "Landis & Gyr Trial Cards."

The Galway Landis & Gyr trial began on the 11 November 1989, but only lasted a very short time. As a result it is quite rare to find a used Galway card.

These cards are the most secure of the three trials. How the card works is quite simple. An infra-red beam is passed along the track at the top of the card (usually located on the front of card). This creates a unique fingerprint. Once the card has been printed the optical track is embedded into the structure of the card and then covered with a thermographic layer.

There was a total of nine Landis & Gyr Phone-Booths installed throughout Galway city all of which are reported to have been destroyed after the trial ended.

Galway 20 Unit

Galway 20 Unit

The cards were available in 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 unit denominations.


Card No: 1009

Manufactured By:



The Smart Card

The smart-card was developed by Roland Moreno in 1976.  Telecom Eireann adopted the smart-card system in 1990 after the three trials had brought back it's own number of advantages and disadvantages. Telecom Eireann realized that if people were to accept Callcards then they would have to of light weight, of ease to use and to be readily available in most shops throughout the country.

They also realized at an early stage of each of the three trials that, certain individuals such as business men or tourists who traveled to different parts of the country were annoyed to find that they couldn't use a card that they had purchased in Limerick in Dublin due to the different trials taking place and vice versa.

Irish Cottage
An example of the Schlumberger Si7 Chipset

Hence the introduction of the Smart-Card, a light but versatile card no bigger or heavier than a standard credit card. The smart card was more expensive to develop but competition in the development was widespread and Telecom Eireann realized their early potential and even foreseen further enhancements to Callcards way back in the early 90's when they released the Dash card in Dublin. Today they trying out a similar trial with the Visa Cash Card Trial in Ennis in Co. Clare.

Most chip cards contain EPROM chips, which means that once the card has been programmed it cannot be recharged.

Irish Horce Racing

An Example of the Gemplus Gpt1 Chipset


Copyright 1999 Steven Hanley