Stanley Dashew, who invented embossing and imprinting machines that helped usher in the credit card industry, died on April 25 in Los Angeles. He was 96.
Born on Sept. 16, 1916, in New York City, Dashew and his family moved to Rockland County, N.Y., where his father practiced law and his mother taught English to immigrants and later led programs and services for the elderly.
During high school, Dashew became a reseller for Hires Root Beer and helped manage his family’s summer resort. After pursuing careers in law and writing, Dashew took on a sales position with Addressograph-Multigraph, which produced business machines that could address envelopes, magazines and more, and eventually set up a sales agency for the company in Grand Rapids, Mich., in 1942.
An avid sailor, Dashew, took his family — wife Martha, 7-year-old son Stephen and 3-month-old daughter Leslie — on an 18-month voyage on a 76-foot schooner, Constellation, in 1949. The Dashews sailed the Great Lakes, the East Coast, the West Indies and the Panama Canal. The journey ended in Los Angeles, where the family settled.
“My love of boats started when I was 10 years old with a canoe that I would use in the swimming pool of the summer camp that my family owned and managed,” Dashew told the Journal in a 2012 interview.
In 1950, Dashew formed his own business, Dashew Business Machines.
“We could emboss 2,000 plates an hour,” he said. “This gave birth to the plastic credit card industry.”
Dashew worked with Bank of America, Chase Manhattan and later American Express to create the modern-day credit card system. In 1963, he sold the business to Hughes Tool Co. His further work with Joe Williams, retired from Bank of America, led to the introduction of UniCard, which was later renamed VISA.
Dashew was awarded 14 patents in such diverse fields as banking, shipping, mining, transportation and water purification, and he also had a hand in the development of Imodco, a single-point mooring system for giant oil tankers, the Omnithruster system used by commercial fishing and military vessels, and the Dashaveyor transportation system.
Late in life, Dashew wrote business articles for the Christian Science Monitor and the Huffington Post, and in 2011 he published his memoir, “You Can Do It: Inspiration and Lessons From an Inventor, Entrepreneur, and Sailor.”
A spiritual person and cultural Jew, Dashew contributed locally to Jewish Vocational Service and was a strong supporter of Israel. Outside the Jewish community, he and his second wife, Rita, who died in 1994, were well known for their involvement in the UCLA Dashew Center for International Students and Scholars, which aims to foster cross-cultural understanding through intellectual exchange.
Dashew is survived by his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Services will be private. A celebration of Dashew’s life will be announced at a later date.