A Brief History of MICR
Prior to computers and MICR technology, the banking industry had two manual
methods for processing large batches of checks. These two processes were known as Sort-A-Matic and Top Tab Key
Sort. The Sort-A-Matic method utilized one hundred dividers, numbered 00 to 99. The first two digits of the account
number were used to sort checks into dividers. By repeating this sorting process for each two digits of the
account, all checks were finally grouped by account number.
The Top Tab Key Sort method used small holes at the top of the check to
indicate each specific digit of the account number. A metal rod was used to separate checks with the same digit in
the first position. It then repeated this process for each digit of the account number until all checks were
grouped by account number.
These were slow, painstaking and
expensive processes. With the advent of computers, Stanford University and Bank of America were the first to
successfully develop a computer technology that would sort and match checks quickly and accurately. This computer
technology became know as Magnetic Ink Character Recognition or MICR for short. The American Banking Association
approved this computer technology and the rest is history.
One of the key elements of this technology was the development of the MICR
font. This font is often referred to as the E-13B font. It consists of ten numbers (0-9) and four special symbols.
The E refers to the fifth version of the font. The number 13 refers to the 0.013-inch design of the font. All
horizontal and vertical widths are multiples of 0.013 inches. They range from 0.052 to 0.091 inches. The B refers
to the second revision (of the fifth version).
There are two types of magnetic readers used to read these MICR font
characters: Single track and multiple track magnetic readers. The MICR fonts are printed with toner that contains
iron oxide. These readers pass the check number past a magnet, which magnetizes the iron oxide particles. This
magnetizing process creates patterns, which can then be decoded by the MICR magnetic reader to sort and batch the
checks by account number.
A third machine, called an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) reader can also
be used to read the MICR fonts. These machines do not use any magnetic properties, but use a scanner light
technology to decode the MICR fonts and sort them into batches by check account number.
MICR Printing and Toner
MICR printers must include a unique MICR
font, which has been designed with the specific printer in mind. These MICR printers must also be able to match the
magnetic toner at the pixel level to insure proper decoding. Finally, the MICR font for each printer must meet the
ABA-X9 standards established by the banking industry.
Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) MICR toner cartridges will provide the MICR printing you need, but at a much higher cost. Today, you can purchase compatible
MICR toner cartridges that
will provide quality printing, but at a reduced cost. The key to successfully purchasing quality compatible MICR toner cartridges is to only deal with reputable toner cartridge companies. These
companies will provide the high quality, low abrasive MICR toner. Their toner cartridges will meet or exceed the
U.S. check printing standards.
Best Suppliers of MICR Toner Cartridges
MICR Toner Cartridges: Amazon
- 110% Money-Back Guarantee
- 2 Year Exchange Guarantee
- Free Priority Same Day Shipping on orders of $40 or more