Oyster, Transport for London’s smart card, was introduced in July 2003, but for the first eight years of its life it was wonderfully change-free. The top row of these Oyster card images shows that the only changes were to the TfL roundel, first from red (associated with buses) to white, and then adding the old British Rail logo (now used by National Rail) once ATOC finally allowed sorted out allowing pre-pay on their services.
As early as 2007 there were Oyster visitor cards co-branded with the Tutankhamun exhibition at the O2. There are still visitor travelcards, and there was also an attempt to fuse a debit card and NFC payment system with an Oyster card, although apparently that’s no longer available.
It was last year, however, after TfL took control of the Oyster brand, that they were really able to let rip with custom designs. After the success of last year’s Royal Wedding cards, as predicted, this year sees special cards for 2012 and Elizabeth’s Golden Jubilee.
Me? I’ll be happy using my 2003 vintage, red-roundel card, even if nobody gets to see the front any more. (The nice thing about NFC cards? You don’t even have to take them out of your Tube map holder.)