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Sunday, 26 January 2014

Cash Machine (or ATM)

A mechanical cash dispenser was developed and built by Luther George Simjian and installed in 1939 in New York City by the City Bank of New York. It was removed after six months due to the lack of customer acceptance.

Simjian suggested his invention's failure was because its only users were “prostitutes and gamblers who didn't want to deal with tellers face to face.”

The Americans created the bankograph, a wall-mounted machine allowing customers to pay bills without seeing a teller in 1960, but it didn't pump out cash.

A Scot, John Shepherd-Barron, invented the ATM. Managing director of a security printing firm, De La Rue Instruments, he was lying in the bath when the idea of a cash dispenser occurred to him.

Barclays Bank were impressed with Shepherd-Barron’s idea and the first DACS (De La Rue Automatic Cash System)  was fitted outside the bank's branch in Enfield, north London on June 27, 1967.

Fixed amounts of money were released when customers inserted rectangular tokens into the machine. Ironically given the ATM was designed to be more convenient than banks, customers first had to buy the tokens from their bank.

The first person to use the DACS cash-dispensing machine was Reg Varney, star of British sitcom On the Buses.

Why a four-digit pin mumber? John Shepherd-Barron originally came up with six-figure number, but decided to consult with his wife Caroline. As his wife could only remember four digits, it became the most commonly used length in many places.

In 1967, a bankers' conference was held in Miami with 2,000 members in attendance. Shepherd-Barron was invited to talk at the conference. As a result, six ATMs were installed at the First Pennsylvania Bank in Philadelphia, the first ever ATMs in America.

By 2004 there were 49,000 cash machines in the UK dispensing almost £150 billion a year.

The ATMs in the Vatican City are the only ones in the world to offer Latin as a language display option.

The world’s highest ATM counter Nathu-La is operated by Union Bank of India and is situated at 14, 300 ft in Kupup in the Himalayas. Primarily meant for the army personnel along the Sino-India border, the cash machine also provides services to tourists.

Antarctica's McMurdo Station, which is where the scientists conduct their research, is the site of a Wells Fargo ATM, one of two such machines operated on the continent. Only one of the ATMs works at a time. The reason for this is so if the working one breaks down, the other can be cannibalized for parts. A repairman also stops by every two years to perform routine maintenance.

Some Japanese cash machines heat banknotes to 200c for a split second to sanitise them before dispensing them.

The sound of cash being dispensed at an ATM is fake - it is produced by a speaker to give you the satisfaction of knowing your money is coming.

There is one ATM for every 3,000 people in the world.

Sources Sunday Times, Daily Mail  

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