A magnetic stripe card manual swipe reader (MSR) unit capable of attaching to and communicating with a conventional personal digital assistant (PDA) from various manufacturers, using only the electrical power available as supplied by the PDA device, and capable of effective electrical power management and conservation operations. Additionally, this PDA attachable MSR unit is capable of recognizing multiple magnetic encoding formats and data record formats and converting said formats to a standardized output format, includes the capability of updating and adding new formats while in field service, and is readily allows verifying card data and encoding sensitive material prior to transmission to the PDA. These custom formats can then be used to fulfill current needs in age verification, law enforcement, security, and numerous other applications.

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