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ABILENE, Texas -- Pay-at-the-pump, introduced by Randy Nicholson, founder of AutoGas Systems, was recognized by USA Today as one of the Top 10 inventions that most affected American lives in the past 25 years.
Pay-at-the-pump, a more than 20-year old idea, ranked ninth on the list of innovations and is featured in the May 21 issue of USA Today. Pay-at-the-pump is listed with other innovations such as online stock trading, laptop computers, debit cards and digital cameras.
"Believe it or not, my idea of pay-at-the-pump had its critics, several saying it would hurt retail sales inside the store," Nicholson told USA Today. "I knew 100 percent it had the potential to change lives, including mothers who could pump and pay without having to get their children out of the car. It was also convenient for people with physical handicaps. The convenience of pay-at-the-pump continues to defy critics and attract more traffic to the stores, both inside and out."
Nicholson began in the gas retailing industry when working at a grocery store while in college. It was then that he had the idea to sell gasoline on unused parking lot spaces. Through lease agreements with storeowners, Nicholson's petroleum marketing company, E-Z Serve, was created.
The pay-at-the-pump concept began testing with one E-Z Serve in Abilene, Texas and a second store in Honolulu.