Most people are pretty familiar with a “FICO score”, a consumer credit rating.

It’s actually named after the company that originally created it…Fair, Isaac & Company. They created the first algorithm back in the late 50s & worked with 50 major lenders, but it really wasn’t available to the general public until 1989.

Citibank was one of those first 50 lenders.

When I joined Citi in 1978, I clearly remember Bruce Muller (one of the few VPs in our Bklyn/SI Region at the time) working very closely with Fair, Isaac & Co. in fine tuning & enhancing the tool into our credit approval processes. (Fair, Isaac & Co. went public in 1986 & changed its name to FICO.)

I can still picture, to this very day, the tiny Apple computer that Bruce had in his cubicle in 1979. The monitor couldn’t have been bigger than 9”!

And he was the ONLY employee I ever saw with one!

We would still give our hand-written memorandums to the secretaries (er, administrative assistants) to type & yes, we were barely out of the Stone Age as we had evolved into using IBM typewriters.

We then graduated into IBM Selectric models with the automatic correct-o-tape feature!

And a few people had those fancy-fancy programmable electronic calculators.

A few years later, we bought ourselves a whole load of Apple Macintosh PCs, mainly because of their ease of use as compared to the IBM-format PCs.

But Apple-compatible software was proprietary & was rather limited so the bank eliminated that approach in just a few years.

By that time, IBM adopted the windows format (more visually-oriented & similar to Apple’s technology) & captured the business market.

But it took quite awhile for many of the common software programs. These early PCs were nothing more than fancy word processors for the most part.

Microsoft Word was introduced in 1983, followed by Excel a couple of years later.

It’s amazing how quickly things changed on those days.

Rotary-dial phones were still widely-used in homes & businesses when I was hired.

I remember when we first developed IVR/Interactive Voice Response in the early-mid 80s. I was concerned about the 10%-15% of our customers that still had rotary phones & wouldn’t be able to use this very handy & efficient self-service tool.

Cell phones? Ha!

Pagers? Weren’t popular until the late 80s! And if you actually got yourself a Blackberry, you were definitely born of royal blood!

(Note: The Mickey Mouse phone that I purchased for my CitiPhone unit in 1984 was indeed equipped with Touch Tone dialing!)

At Citi, we introduced Citismart in late ’83 & it was truly a quantum leap from the individual components (Datasasb, Type 1 terminals, etc.) previously used to service our customers. And, initially, it wasn’t even rolled out to our branches, even though it was the best servicing tool the bank had seen in ages!

And, over time, similar to how the software industry began rolling out more & more applications to support this “PC thingie”, we worked very closely with our Systems partners to develop & implement additional functionality into Citismart…CCR (Citicard Replacement), stop payments, investigations, checkbook orders, address changes, linking requests, photocopies (stmts, checks), etc..

IVR/Interactive Voice Response didn’t roll out until the late ’80s & CBOL/Citibanking On-Line was still called Home Access.

It was rolled out to 10K “friendly users”, required special software & only ran on those damned dial-up lines…with the easily-recognizable screeches, hissing & buzzing as you attempted to make a connection.

Ah, a quick stroll back through history…


Thank you so much for listening!O

Posted in:

Subscribe to Mike's Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Recent Comments

Leave a Reply