In this age of shortcuts and modern machinery, most people know what an ATM or Automatic Teller Machine is. These amazing machines dispense money in minutes, which makes banking easy. However, ATM is not a recent invention and has been existing for a long time.

Let’s examine the history of ATMs.

The timeline

In 1961, a bankograph was set up at New York’s first National Bank, which helped customers pay their bills without the help of a teller. Though the machine was not an ATM, this device made one-way money transactions possible, making it the precursor of ATMs. In 1966, British inventor James Goodfellow, who was working in Smiths Group, devised the idea of a Personal Identification Number or PIN for card holders and filed a patent for the same.


                                                   Image: James Goodfellow, the man behind ATM PINs.

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A year later, the world’s first money dispenser was debuted at Barclays Bank in London. British inventor, John Shepherd-Barron, came up with the idea of creating a cash-vending machine. Soon, after which, he created a device for the bank, with a maximum withdrawal of £10. The device used paper cheques issued by the bank, to dispense money to the user. Nine days after Barclays installed their money dispenser, Swedish bank Nixdorf introduced their first ATM, which was termed as ‘Bankautomat’. A month after Barclays, Westminster Bank installed their first ATM.


                                Image: The world’s first money dispenser at Barclays Bank, London.

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By 1968, ATMs made its entry into the United States and most ATMs were running on PINs. Several banks introduced a machine that encoded cash on plastic cards which were purchased from a bank teller. However, the only drawback was that every time a person wanted to carry out a transaction, they would need to purchase a new card. However, by the year 1969, there was a revolutionary change for plastic cards as magstripe cards were introduced. Magstripe cards were magnetically coded plastic cards which was created by the American firm Docutel. American businessman Donald Wetzel was credited with this invention. Over the past decade, Docutel took over the ATM banking world.


                                                             Image: The first magstripe card by Docutel.

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In 1971, Docutel’s Total Teller became the first fully-functioning ATM. The machine could take deposits, transfer money, give out money and perform other functions. The number of ATMs started rising across the world. By 1973, there were nearly 2000 ATMs across the USA and by 1974, a number of offline and online ATMs called TABS 550 were set up, which were flexible and easier to use, thus becoming in demand.

total teller

                                                                     Image: Docutel’s Total Teller.

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In 1978, the first IBM-compatible machine was installed at a bank in Indianapolis. By 1984, the IBM 2984 were used at Lloyds Bank; these were online machines which issued money and also immediately deducted the same amount from the respective bank account. By the end of that year, there were nearly 1 lakh ATMs were set around the globe. Today, we live in a world were more than 3 million ATMs are installed.

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