Smart chip inventor, Roland Moreno, dies

The man who invented the computer chip used on smart cards, Roland Moreno, has died.

According to La RepubblicaMoreno was 29 when he first patented the idea for a miniature circuit board that could hold secure electronic data.

His idea changed shopping, commuting, banking and passports and paved the way for the mobile phone in 1974.

It was in France where his idea first caught on. They used the card’s security measures as part of the Carte Bleue debit card system. While this was great for the French, it caused all sorts of problems for foreign tourists whose banks still used magnetic strips.

France Télécom used the chip for its Télécarte cards for use in pay phones.

Born in Egypt, Moreno was a self-taught electonics engineer and came up with all sorts of ideas but it seems that the smart chip was his best out of his 49 patents.

Needless to say there were loads of people who claimed they invented it, and he had to defend the idea in court. By the time his patent ended in 1994 it had earned him and his company Innovatron nearly €150 million.

The security on the chip has managed to weather the test of time. In 2000 he offered 150,000 if anyone could crack the code in three months. The money was never claimed.

A father of two, he said in an interview recently that he wished someone had made a waxwork of him and said he wanted people to say of him: “God owes much to Johan-Sebastian Bach, I want it to be said that the French owe much to Moreno.”