What methods (in programming/web dev terms) were used to take payments online before such things as Paypal, Google Checkout and various gateways and API's.
How were such transactions carried out?
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Actually, not that much differently if you take all the middleware out of context.
Payment gateways typically provide a secure, offshore way to store CC data and provide advanced validation, invoicing etc.
But besides all that great funk behind the scenes, they're still saving it into a database and handing the information over to the bank.