We can’t deny the fact that technology has impacted banking and has made it so easy for us. You no longer have to go to banks for complex transactions all you have to do is use USSD codes and transact at your comfort zone, you no longer need to withstand long queues to deposit or withdraw money, all you need to do is visit the ATM. Our focus today is how ATMs came into being, a brief history of ATMs that have made life easier.
Automated Teller Machine known as ATM is a computer that makes it possible for bank account holders to manage their accounts, withdraw or deposit money, get a statement of accounts, among other functions. Nowadays you don’t even need an ATM card to use an ATM, all you need is your fingerprint and the good thing is, it is configured to operate 24/7. It is believed that the first ATM was created by Luther George Simjian in 1960. He was famous for creating a machine called Bankograph a machine that could accept deposits and print receipts. He persuaded New York City bank to take a few of his machines. This invention could not catch on because the only set of people using it then were gamblers and prostitutes who did not want to deal with the tellers face-to-face. This was not enough to make the invention worthwhile.
At the end of the 1960s however, times were changing and people were getting more comfortable with self-service machines like vending machines so the introduction of automated banking wouldn’t be a problem. While sitting in his bathtub, a Scottish inventor named John Shepherd Barron thought since vending machines could dispense chocolate bars, why can’t they dispense cash. Barclays a London bank loved this idea and in 1967, the first ATM was installed in one of Barclay’s branches on Enfield High Street. Unlike modern ATMs, it did not use cards, it used paper vouchers printed with radioactive inks which the machine could read. This only allowed users to withdraw a maximum of 10 Euros at that time.
The first ATM was installed in the United States by a former Baseball player and Dallas engineer named Donald Wetzel. Unlike the first ATM which uses papers with radioactive inks, Wetzel’s machine used cards like we have today and it was installed at a Chemical Bank branch at Rockville centre in New York in 1969. By 1970 however, a British Engineer, James Goodfellow, proposed the concept of Personal Identification Number (PIN) which verified the identity of customers.
It took gambling and blizzards for the ATM to gain ground in the United States, In 1977, Citibank took a risk by pledging $100 million for the instalment of ATMs across Newyork. The investment paid off the next year when a blizzard forced all banks to close, this made ATM use increase by 20%. Citi bank launched its own familiar Ad slogan “Citi that never sleeps” which is still relevant today. After this, almost every bank in the United State followed Citi Bank’s lead. In 1977, the National Cash Register, a Technology company launched a new model of ATM (NCR Model 770) which was easier to use and offered 24/7 service. A newer model (5070 ATM) followed in 1980. By 1984, the number of ATMs installed worldwide was 100,000.
Today, there is over 2million ATMs installed worldwide. Even though there has been a decline in the usage of ATMs since the invention of debit cards and cashless policies, using ATMs remain an integral part of our culture.