About Irish Callcards

The Beginning

Telecom Eireann first introduced phonecards into the Republic of Ireland in the year 1988. The brand name chosen for these cards was “CallCard”. Telecom Eireann, Ireland's state-owned telecommunications company became privatized in 1999. Subsequently the name of the company was changed to Eircom.

During the beginning of Telecom Eireann's phonecard roll out, they launched three magnetic phonecard trials in different cities around Ireland. Each of these three cities also used different card systems as part of the trial. These systems were:

  • GPT (Plessey) – Dublin trial cards introduced in the year 1988
  • Autelca – Limerick trial cards introduced in the year 1988
  • Landis & Gyr – Galway trial cards introduced in the year 1989

Special promotional trial cards were further produced using the GPT and Autelca card systems, which had far fewer cards produced. The Cork FITCE convention card, which was an official overprint of the GPT test card, was issued to delegates at the FITCE conference in Cork 1988. 960 of these cards were issued. Surplus FITCE cards were briefly sold in Dublin after the conference[...]


The Trial Callcards

Telecom Eireann initially rolled out three different Callcard trials, throughout the years 1988-1989. The phonecard types trialled at the time were the cheaper, more typically used magnetic strip cards. The exception being the Galway trial that used the more secure optical tracking strip[...]


The Chipcard Introduction

Chip cards, or smart cards shared the same form factor as credit cards and other magnetic type phonecards. This made them ideal to use for phonecards, as they were much more convenient than cash which cluttered up wallets. These cards had a microchip installed in a position on the card. Variations have been known to exist, although generally it was positioned centre-left on the card.

Invented by French engineer Roland Moreno in 1976, Telecom Eireann had seen how well the chip cards were working for France Telecom, who introduced smart phonecards in 1984[...]


About the chipped Callcards

When the three Callcard trials ended, Telecom Eireann chose to use chip based smart cards for their phonecard product instead. The smart card, invented by French engineer Roland Moreno in 1976 was the most secure, and technologically advanced phonecard system in it's day.

Interestingly Ireland was one of the first countries in the world to introduce chipped phonecards, alongside France in 1990, just three years after they began the phonecard trial[...]



The Christmas Callcards

Both Telecom Eireann and Eircom released special Christmas Callcards each year. These Christmas themed Callcards were issued to the general public starting in 1992 and ending in 2000 wishing their customers a Happy Christmas and New Year.

Early on, Telecom Eireann provided a special envelope/cardboard sleeve with the Callcard in an attempt to target the Christmas market[...]


Advertising, special and limited edition Callcards

As with other countries worldwide, the idea of using telephone cards to promote important events, release special limited edition cards as well as use phonecards for advertising started from 1991 onwards. Telecom Eireann saw this as a way to entice collectors with a greater variety of cards, but also make some money from advertisers interesting in promoting their products and services on a Callcard[...]


Definitive Callcard sets

Both Telecom Eireann and Eircom released definitive ranges of Callcards. These definitive cards were quite common to find, as they generally had very large print runs. There were some exceptions to this rule, particularly when is comes to the earlier and later sets, as well as some chipset variations.

As Definitive cards were typically produced and run continuously for 3-4 years, numerous varieties of these cards have been produced. Varieties include different chipsets, addresses, batch information etc. included on the card. For example the Cottage definitive Callcards have at least 60 known varieties! The Cottage card was produced between 1991 and 1994[...]


Music cards

EMI Music teamed up with Telecom Eireann to bring out a music promoting Callcard for the Irish band “Blink”. Further cards for Tina Turner, Gareth Brooks and Diana Ross were also produced[...]


Disney cards

Various Callcards were produced to mark the launch of Walt Disney films. These cards are probably the best remembered by collectors as they were always colourful and bright[...]


Design a Callcard cards

Telecom Eireann started the “Design a Callcard” competition in the year 1993 that ran through the years until 1999[...]


Collectors Fair Sets

Starting in 1996, Telecom Eireann held Collectors fairs until 2001. All profits from these fairs went to the Irish Brain Research Foundation[...]


Units to currency conversion

Eircom changed from “Units” to Currency for Callcards in the year 2001. This meant that cards were sold with a value such as €4 rather than 20 Units[...]


The Simply Talk definitive range

In the early 2000s Eircom decided to change the Callcards value representation from "Units" to cash values. It is thought that this change was meant to offer better value for customers, as well as offering a easier to follow value representation[...]


Present

To this day Callcard collecting is still popular with many people interested in finishing off their collections however it is not as popular as back in its heyday during the later '90s, early '00s. If you are interested in starting back collecting again why not join our forums and introduce yourself?


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