This week saw the passing of John Shepherd-Barron, inventor of the ATM.
Whilst we take them for granted these days, with 1.6million of them worldwide, it’s interesting to look back and think how innovative and indeed strange they were when they first appeared back in 1967.
Reading some of the background got me imagining how the conversation between inventor and bank bosses went?:
“I have an idea of how we can handover money to our customers more easily”.
“Great, go on…”
“A hole in the wall!”.
“You what? We spend a lot of our money on preventing them…”
“No, listen, I’ve based my design on a chocolate dispenser, but the money will be safe as customers will have to use a cheque imprinted with radioactive carbon 14 to withdraw their money”.
“It gets better. You’re joking, right?”.
“No, don’t worry, they’ll also need to remember a 4-digit code before we’ll give them their cash.”
Perhaps it is a measure of how seriously cash machines were taken when they first came out that On The Buses’ Reg Varney was the first to use an ATM, at Barclays in Enfield, north London.
Nowadays, cash machines can do more than just give out money, such as mobile phone top-ups, although other than checking my balance, I never use them for anything other than their original purpose. And despite their age, they’re yet to get everyone’s approval; my dad recently declared that he had never used one and had no intention of changing that. But that might change if ATMs continue to add new services. Here’s 10 examples of how ATMs will be used to service bank customers in the future.
Surprisingly, there’s no mention of cash machines dispensing gold, like this machine in Abu Dhabi.
By the way, if you’re the sort of person who enjoys seeing cash machines malfunctioning, as shown in the top photos, there’s even a Flickr group dedicated to such occurrences.
photo credit: Terinea IT Support