The Complete History of the First ATM/Cash Machine

Facts About the First ATM/Cash Machine

  • English actor Reg Varney was the first person to use the cash machine.
  • The first automated teller machine was turned into gold on its fiftieth anniversary.
  • Used a personal identification number to dispense money.

The First ATM/Cash Machine History

While there has been some debate, John Shepherd-Barron is credited with developing the first automated teller machine (ATM). He developed the automated cash dispenser out of frustration of not being able to cash his checks after the banks closed. John got the idea from chocolate vending machines. He worked with banknote manufacturer De La Rue to create the first six automated cash dispenser machines. They would later create an additional 50 automated teller machines.

The automated cash dispenser machines had similar features to cash machines that we use today. This includes a PIN to verify an individual’s identity. Mr. Barron originally designed the cash dispenser to operate using a six-digit personal identification number. He would later reduce the PIN to four digits because his wife felt it would be easier to remember. The original use of the automated teller machine was to dispense money. The original machine cash dispenser machines were never patented by John or De La Rue. John felt a patent would disclose to criminals how the machines worked.

 John Shepherd-Barron (pictured third from the left) is credited with developing the first automated teller machine (ATM).
John Shepherd-Barron (pictured third from the left) is credited with developing the first automated teller machine (ATM).

The First ATM/Cash Machine: How it Worked

The first automated teller machine used carbon 14 impregnated checks instead of plastic cards to initiate the transaction. Carbon 14 is a substance that is mildly radioactive. To start the transaction, a unique personal check was inserted into an automated cash dispenser. The machine would then detect the check and match it to an individual’s PIN. If everything matched, your money would be dispensed. The automated teller machine could dispense a maximum of GBP10 per transaction.

A young girl using a modern ATM to withdraw money.
A young girl using a modern ATM to withdraw money.

The First ATM/Cash Machine: Historical Significance

The first cash dispenser paved the way for the card and four-digit personal identification number that we use today with ATMs. It was pivotal in changing the way that financial institutions and customers interacted. Because of this invention, customers can now use their cards to perform a wide variety of transactions at the automated teller machine.

The first automated teller machines began to gain popularity in the late 1960s and the 1970s. This popularity continued to grow every year since. This led to vast improvements in physical design, features, and security. There are currently over 3.5 million automated cash machines worldwide.

More from author

Related posts

Latest posts

Bell Labs: A Complete Guide — History, Products, Founding, and More

The History of Bell Labs: What to Know Bell Laboratories is a legendary company in the technology research world. From its inception, Bell Labs has...

The Complete Guide to Moore’s Law

What Is Moore’s Law? - Complete Explanation In 1965, Gordon Moore, an American engineer who went on to co-found Intel, hypothesized that the modern pace...

QLED vs OLED: Full Comparison

QLED Vs. OLED: The Key Differences Explained Although these two acronyms look almost exactly alike, the difference between QLED and OLED is an important question...

Want to stay up to date with the latest news?

We would love to hear from you! Please fill in your details and we will stay in touch. It's that simple!