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The E-Sylum:  Volume 10, Number 29, July 22, 2007, Article 20

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE AUTOMATED TELLER MACHINE

David Sundman forwarded the following article about the birthday
of the automated teller machine forty years ago.  Last month an
historical plaque was dedicated at the site of the world's first
ATM.

"The world's first ATM was installed in a branch of Barclays in
Enfield, north London, 40 years ago this week.

"Inspiration had struck Mr Shepherd-Barron, now 82, while he was
in the bath.

"'It struck me there must be a way I could get my own money,
anywhere in the world or the UK. I hit upon the idea of a chocolate
bar dispenser, but replacing chocolate with cash.'

"Plastic cards had not been invented, so Mr Shepherd-Barron's machine
used cheques that were impregnated with carbon 14, a mildly radioactive
substance.

"The machine detected it, then matched the cheque against a Pin number.

"However, Mr Shepherd-Barron denies there were any health concerns:
'I later worked out you would have to eat 136,000 such cheques for
it to have any effect on you.'

"One by-product of inventing the first cash machine was the concept
of the Pin number.

"Mr Shepherd-Barron came up with the idea when he realised that he
could remember his six-figure army number. But he decided to check
that with his wife, Caroline.

"'Over the kitchen table, she said she could only remember four
figures, so because of her, four figures became the world standard,'
he laughs.

"But even though he invented the machine, Mr Shepherd-Barron believes
its use in future will be very different. He predicts that our society
will no longer be using cash within a few years.

"'Money costs money to transport. I am therefore predicting the
demise of cash within three to five years.'

"He believes fervently that we will soon be swiping our mobile
phones at till points, even for small transactions."

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story

[Thanks to Dr. Martin Allen for pointing out that although the
Barclay's ATM was the first ot the type we know today, "a mechanical
cash dispenser was developed ... and installed 1939 in New York City
by the City Bank of New York, but removed after 6 months due to the
lack of customer acceptance."  See
Full Story  -Editor]

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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