First Virtual in the beginning, then MessageMedia, and acquired by DoubleClick, it was a revolution from the get go. From The New York Times: "The First Virtual approach is to create an automatic authorization system that requires no previous relationship between buyer and seller. In the era of electronic commerce, the new system may herald a shift comparable to the transition a generation ago, when the members-only department store credit card gave way to use-anywhere cards like Visa and Mastercard.
"The new company, based in San Diego, is the brainchild of Lee Stein, a San Diego lawyer and accountant who is its president, and three computer scientists long involved with the Internet global web of computer networks. First Virtual's big partners are Electronic Data Systems Inc., a division of General Motors, and First USA, a fast-growing credit card company in Dallas that will issue a Visa card for the new service."
<link to full NYT article>