Today in 1925, New York banker, George McCarthy received a patent for the Checkograph, the first bank check photographing device and the first practical use of commercial microfilm.
In 1928 Eastman Kodak bought McCarthy’s invention and began to market it under Kodak’s Recordak Division. With a perfected 35mm microfilm camera, Recordak in 1935 expanded and began filming and publishing The New York Times in microfilm.In 1952, bank workers processed some 8 billion checks (accroding to Steven Lubar in InfoCulture). In 1958, the U.S. banking industry established the electronic recording method of accounting (ERMA), adding magnetic ink character recognition numbers to every check, automating most of the check processing work.
The last stage of computerization–digitization–happened in 2004, when the Check 21 Act made check images a legal transfer medium in the U.S. and allowed financial institutions to truncate the paper check at the point of entry, after scanning it.
There were over 50 billion paper checks processed in the U.S. in 2003. In that year, electronic payments in the U.S. surpassed the use of cash and checks for the first time.