1945 - 2012

Roland Moreno: engraved in the memory

Roland Moreno Foundation

Uninhibited self-taught, brilliant and whimsical inventor, iconoclastic writer, poet full of humor and free thinker ... Roland Moreno is an atypical figure of the French and international techno-economic landscape

Roland Moreno was born on June 11, 1945, in Cairo, Egypt. He arrived in France age 2. He studied in Paris and obtained his scientific baccalaureate in 1964.

'One day I added bathtub faucets on a tape recorder'.

The family's scientific spirit and the diligent reading of "Jean François Électricien" predispose him to genius hacks.

Self-taught experimenter

Nevertheless, once his scientific baccalaureate in hand he disdains the royal road of the great engineering schools.

On the eve of 68 Roland Moreno lives happily in Paris, a student of letters who is reluctant to follow university rules.

He quickly abandoned his studies at the Sorbonne Nouvelle and devoted himself to his passion for electronic experimentation, which he financed through an eclectic career of odd jobs.

"I saw that there was a market for electronic gadgets that would be useless, so I tried to make some."

In 1968, journalist Gérard Sire interviewed Moreno.

Funny machines...
...that don’t always do much! The brilliant and provocative young inventor is developing a series of funny machines. A singing bird, a pocket organ, a machine that only serves to blow up matches in the air.

'My song juke box' (1983)

The brilliant and provocative young inventor began developing a series of amusing machines, such as this home made Juke Box

The pianok

"I saw that there was a clientele for electronic gadgets that would be useless, I tried to make some."

MATAPOF - The coin-operated coin-operated machine (1968)

Pressing the red button turns on a red or green diode.

In 1972, Roland Moreno opened a company - INNOVATRON - whose primary vocation was to sell ideas.

At the beginning of 1974, Roland Moreno discovered a type of memory that records information without energy.

"A big factor for me has been luck.

"You really need it - because otherwise everything else comes together to make your efforts fail. And and if something works, it's a fluke.

"It's not a coincidence my first thing is the coin-operated machine."

"The smart card was my first useful invention to fulfil a desirable function - securing money."

On March 25th, 1974, he filed the first patent for an "electronic payment chip" - a personalized and portable integrated micro-circuit memory.

With the use of a simple code, it guaranteed "simple and secure" information exchange with an off-the-shelf terminal.

Moreno filed 43 patents to protect his brainchild.

The very first version of the chip is mounted on a ring.

The first prototype of a payment terminal, with a banking ring, ancestor of the smart card, connected to the terminal.

The first model of a merchant terminal for a credit card: the merchant enters the amount, the customer introduces his card and types his secret code, then a ticket prints.

"The smart card has a limited number of applications, I see five: the bank, the phone, the car parks, the TV decoders and the health card, and beyond that, I'm a bit skeptical."

Moreno bragged that he could stop anyone on the streets of Paris and they'd be carrying at least three examples of his chip card invention.

Today, the invention is used for contactless transport cards, ID cards, driving licenses and sim cards.

His curiosity for technology and keenness for experimentation surely played a part in his journey to becoming a life-changing inventor.

In 1992, more than 500 million phonecards will be sold. All credit cards adopt the chip.

Roland Moreno was made Knight of the Legion of Honor in 1992. He was promoted to officer in 2009.

In 1996, Roland Moreno was awarded the Eduard Rhein Prize (the German Nobel Prize) in the technology category.

He also received the Grand Gold Medal of the Society for Encouraging Progress as well as the Great Medal of Industrial Development of the National Industry Incentive Society.

France 2 is making a documentary about Roland Moreno.

"Roland Moreno, the journey of a gifted man" (1998).

Roland Moreno
An inspiration for artists

Creativity

"Roland Moreno inspired me by always modernizing his finds. He was a compass and a pride for youth and researchers and a creator of vocations. For France, he represented 'the possible'."

Claude McSolaar, artist, French rapper

A lover of France

"He was never at rest, it was going all over the place." Olivier Cadic, senator

His genius invention: the smart card

"The invention of the smart card is obviously one of the greatest French inventions of the century, if not the greatest."

Billions of people carry it in their pocket around the world, along with their mobile phone and credit card."
- Olivier Cadic, Senator

An insatiable curiosity

"Being an inventor is above all thinking differently. Everyone can invent but to get there you have to know how to be persistent and optimistic.
The new generations need to anticipate the transformations of tomorrow's society, their constraints." Xavier Niel, CEO of Free

Fondation Roland Moreno
Credits: Story

Thanks to Marianne & Julia Moreno for telling us about their father's wonderful adventures, and thanks to Blaise Lavigne for providing us with such beautiful pictures.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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