The first phonecard issued and sold to the public is Italian. It was issued in 1976 but no one at that time thought it was the starting of a new hobby that twenty years later would have been so popular all over the world.
Prepaid phone cards were born in Italy, during the fall of 1975. A number of telephones accepting prepaid cards, as well as vending machines for the cards, were installed at the beginning of 1976 in the Villa Borghese area of Rome. Interestingly enough, the company involved, SIDA, was not in the telecommunications industry, but was a manufacturer and supplier of vending machines.
Manufactured by Pikappa, the very first Italian cards proved unsatisfactory, as they were too thin and jammed the vending machines. The cards showed no face value, but had carrying units valued at L.50 (50 lira) detailed on the reverse side.
Today, Italy is second only to Japan in the use of prepaid phone cards.