The Digital Check story started in 1959, when a paper broker named Tom Anderson Sr. saw the way companies were storing important data on microfilm, and thought he had a better idea. Paper brokers – agents who helped paper mills find buyers for their products – had all kinds of different clients, and one day at a convention, a rival broker bragged that the 3M Company was using his paper for storing microfilm.
At that time, microfilm was stored using aperture cards – paper cards with space on one side for punch codes to be used in computer sorting, and an opening on the other side for the microfilm itself. But the early cards were simply paper with a hole cut out, leaving the microfilm unprotected and frequently damaged. Anderson saw a pack of cigarettes laying on the table, took off the cellophane wrapper, and used it to cover up the microfilm opening. He had just invented the “suspension-style” aperture card, and the Microseal Corporation was born.
The Early Years: Microseal Corporation
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Microseal sold millions of aperture cards, microfilm jackets, and related media through an extensive network of domestic and global distributors.
From Tom Anderson’s original, single-slot aperture card, the company branched out into increasingly more complex designs to meet companies’ growing storage needs. Microfilm storage remained the dominant way of archiving information, as well as the core business of Microseal, well into the 1980s.
Data Conversion, Inc.
In 1988, Microseal entered into a partnership with a California-based electronics manufacturer named Data Conversion, Inc. (DCI) as both companies looked for way to evolve from film and analog electronics into the digital age.
The partnership was so successful that Microseal acquired DCI outright the following year. Today, the company formerly known as DCI provides the bulk of Digital Check’s manufacturing and engineering capabilities, including our entire U.S.-based scanner production.
Digital Check produced its first check scanner, the BUIC 1000, in 1995 on behalf of the IBM Corporation. But another company, Burroughs Inc., had been working with banking equipment and back-end systems since the 1940s and ’50s, even collaborating with researchers and regulators on the specifications for the original magnetic MICR printing used on checks.
In 2016, Digital Check acquired Burroughs’ SmartSource division, which produces banking hardware including check scanners, receipt printers, and high-volume reader-sorters, and retained the main SmartSource office now located in Novi, MI. The addition of SmartSource’s talented product, engineering, and sales personnel brings a preponderance of industry experience under the Digital Check roof. It can be said that no one in the world knows more about capturing check images than Digital Check.
ST Imaging and nextScan
Digital Check retains a substantial involvement in the microfilm business, with two divisions working on top-tier reading and conversion projects. ST Imaging, acquired in 1999, produces front-end microfilm and microfiche readers found in library and research settings. nextScan, which joined the Digital Check family in 2015, specializes in high-speed readers for bulk conversion of microfilm to digital format.
While microfilm may not be the new technology of the internet age, it first came into widespread use in the 1920s; the majority of all documents ever preserved – trillions in total – were originally captured on microfilm, and we take our role as keepers of that technology seriously.
Software, Networking, and the Future of Banking
As banking and payments have continued to evolve, Digital Check has moved with them, introducing new products and opening a software division to help contribute to the ongoing transformation of branch and consumer technology. With new experiments in networking, mobile/tablet, kiosks and self-serve technology, Digital Check remains poised to take on the new challenges of the 21st century.