BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates to the field of authorization 5 cards, more particularly authorization cards for use as personal identity papers, value cards, credit cards, etc.
Authorization cards of this kind should not only be adapted for verification whether they are authentic and who is the owner of the card, but it should also be 10 possible to check whether the actual user is the authorized owner of the card. In this way, the authorization card should be protected against unauthorized use by third persons.
Conventionally, automatic evaluation devices to '5 which the authorization cards are presented are provided with a keyboard by which the user of the card may introduce a coded number which is compared with an information stored on the card. However, there is a risk that the introduction of the coded number is ob- 20 served by third persons so that third persons may know the coded number.
OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION
A primary object of the invention is to provide an 25 improved authorization card for use as an identity card, value card, credit card, etc.
A further object of the invention is an improved authorization card adapted to generate a coded information to be compared with a variable information 30 associated with ther owner of the card and stored on the card.
It is a further object of the invention to provide an authorization card having means for generating coded information by manual adjustment which is almost im- 35 possible to be observed by any third persons.
A further object of the invention is to provide an authorization card not requiring a code number to be introduced into an automatic reading device by actuation of a keyboard. 40
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
In accordance with the invention the authorization card has at least one storing zone for storing fixed information defining the type and/or extent of authorization. 45 The authorization card further comprises a storing zone for storing variable information associated with the owner of the card. Both of these storing zones are adapted for automatic reading by an automatic reading device to which the authorization card is presented. In 50 accordance with an important feature of the invention, the authorization card includes means for generating a coded information by manual adjustment. The adjusted coded information may be read from the authorization card upon presenting of the same to the automatic read- 55 ing device, and is compared with the variable information to acknowledge proper use of the card in case the adjusted coded information corresponds with the variable information, but to refuse authorization in case these do not correspond with each other. 60
Thus, in a preferred embodiment of the invention, the authorization card has some kind of coded number lock. Within a zone from which the coded information is detected, there is a specific movable member. The authorization card will only be recognized as being au- 65 thentic in case that portion of the member lying within the detected characterizing zone has a pattern the inherent characterizing information of which is recorded in
coded form on an information recording track provided on the card. For example, with a member having ten possible positions, the pattern on the member will only have a "correct" position in one of these possible positions, in which identity between the characterizing information and the information contained on the recording track is determined. The pattern of the member may consist of characters or of a surface or three-dimensional structure. By selecting a predetermined position of the member on or within the authorization card and successive detection of the characterizing zone of the card, the characterizing information is generated. The characterizing information can either be read at one or at a plurality of positions or along a line of the authorization card. For example, by reading or detecting along a line extending across the characterizing zone, a continuous characterizing protocol may be established which must correspond with an authenticity protocol contained on a protocol track of the authorization card, in order to recognize the authorization card and the adjustment of its at least one adjustable member as being authentic.
In accordance with a preferred embodiment, just in the manner of a coded number lock, a plurality of strips or plates are used each of which extends in an associated characterizing zone. To define the positions of the plates or strips, each plate or strip can be associated with a scale, so that the user will adjust a combination of numbers to bring the authorization card into its state of authenticity.
In accordance with a further preferred embodiment of the invention, the plate is formed as a circular disc which may be rotated about its axis to be brought into different rotational positions. In accordance with another embodiment, the plate may be slidably moved along a linear path. Further, it is possible to provide the scale of the plate or strip with automatically readable characters, and with each of the possible positions, one respective character is presented within the characterizing zone of the card to be read in an automatic reading device to which the card is presented.
For various kinds of use, the authorization cards may be consumer articles, which, although they may represent a substantial amount of money, should be susceptible of low-cost mass production in view of the materials used therefor. For producing an authorization card of this kind, the data support is replaceably fit into a frame supporting the movable plate or plates. The data supports are clamped within the frame for the duration of their validity, and are completed by the movable plate. After its removal or the end of validity thereof, the data support is replaced by a new one, whereas the frame may be used further on.
In accordance with an advantageous embodiment of the invention, the plate is provided with a catch member which, upon passing of a guide member of an automatic device, causes repositioning of the plate into a defined zero position. When evaluation of the authorization card is completed, all of the plates are thus brought into a neutral position so that, upon release of the authorization card by the automatic device, the secret number combination is not adjusted any longer.
An essential advantage of the inventive system is based on the fact that the signals resulting from the respective positions of the adjustable members do not allow any conclusion with respect to the adjustment positions. This is an important progress over keyboards