AmEx Asteroids

I’ve been binging the History of the Internet podcast lately and there are several stories about the post-commercialization/pre-Secure Sockets Layer era. Example: Without SSL to encrypt web-traffic, people would fill their Amazon carts with items, then insist on phoning-in their CC numbers. Sometimes they’d (foolishly) be willing to email CC info, but not plug it into a website. (No security difference, between the two.)

At the same time, I was going through a sort-of retro videogame kick.

Somehow the two things swirled together, and I started to wonder: Does the quality of the visuals matter? What if SSL had existed for years before the internet became graphically-interesting? Would people have been willing to plug CC info into a 1995 browser? What about the Lynx text-only browser?

What about even earlier graphics? My initial thought was “If the interface looked like Atari 2600 Hangman, would Dad have had the confidence to joystick in his AmEx card to buy me a new game over the phone line?”

That idea, plugging CC numbers into Hangman, was in the back of my head when I randomly came across Ben Bittner’s Asteroids-inspired font, Vectorhand. (I think I got there from something he posted on Metafilter, if memory serves.) So its not 2600 Hangman, like my gut insisted, but it is sorta iconic imagery.

Would you put your CC info into a 1979 interface? Or does the slickness of 2018’s Stripe element make you feel better?

(Joystick not supported; but you might try the I-K-J-Enter combo.)

This entry was posted on August 10, 2018 with tags