This is the History of ATM Machines

This is the History of ATM Machines


ATM (automated teller machine) as in other technological inventions, ATM inventions are also based on the work of a number of inventors. Here we must mention at least three names, namely Luther Simjian, John Shepherd-Barron, and Don Wetzel.

As Mary Bellis writes at About.com, in 1939 Simjian patented an early prototype ATM which later proved to be less than successful. There are also those who argue, a Scotsman named James Goodfellow is the earliest patent holder (1966) for a modern ATM and John D White (from Docutel) in the United States is also often referred to as the inventor of the first free standing ATM design.

In 1967, John Shepherd-Barron invented and installed an ATM in a bank Barclays in London. A year later (1968), Don Wetzel invented an American-made ATM. ATMs only became an important part of banking starting in the 1980s.

A "hole in the wall" machine

From the historical overview above, people admit that Simjian was the person who got the idea to create what is known as a "hole in the wall machine" that allows customers to make financial transactions.

In 1939, Simjian applied for 20 patents related to the invention of the ATM and conducted field trials of the machine at the bank that is now known as Citicorp. It's just that, after six months, the bank where the test was conducted reported that only a few people were interested in the machine, so its use was discontinued.

The biography of Luther Simjian (1905-1997) is no less interesting. The inventor who was born in Turkey, January 28, 1905, studied medicine, but his lifelong interest was photography. In 1934, Simjian moved to New York.

Today, Simjian is known as the inventor of the Bankmatic ATM, although his first major invention with commercial value was related to a camera.

Modern ATM

From the history above we know that more than a quarter of a century after the failure of the Simjian machine, a machine pioneered by John Shepherd-Barron emerged who was later awarded the Order of the British Empire in 2005. This machine accepts one-time vouchers and issues an envelope containing 10 pound note.

The personal identification number (PIN) that we know today began to appear in the work of James Goodfellow. PIN is intended to limit access to customer accounts. Before arriving at PINs, Goodfellow had explored other identification methods, including fingerprints, voice recognition, and retinal patterns.

Then what is Donald Wetzel's contribution? The experts from Texas-based Docutel Corp developed the first networked ATM, known as Docuteller, in 1968. In 1969, Chemical Bank of New York started using this technology, which was patented in 1973.

If in 2006 there were 1.5 million ATM machines used worldwide, now—with the expanding banking industry—certainly the number of ATMs has increased rapidly.

However, the widespread use of ATMs is also accompanied by the development of crime. Customer identity piracy, known as skimming, by identity theft expert, Robert Siciliano, in his article (9/9/2009, Goodreads Inc.) is one of the fastest growing crimes in the financial industry. The ATM Industry Association report reports that around the world each year there is a loss worth 1 billion US dollars from credit card misuse and crime

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Skimming can occur in a number of ways. The most common is when a shopkeeper takes a customer's card and swipes it with a device that copies information from the card's magnetic strip. Thieves can also copy data on a blank card or a “white” card. ".

At an unattended ATM, this identity theft device can be installed without the bank customer realizing it. In addition to this device called a skimmer, there is also a hidden camera.

Technological dialectics

In this era filled with various challenges, the bank is of course obliged to improve ATM security. However, on the part of customers, increased vigilance must also become a new attitude.

At an ATM, the customer must observe whether there is a skimming tool that usually sticks out (slightly bigger) than the normal slot. If you see something suspicious, the customer should stop using the ATM and report it to the relevant authorities.



While waiting for the birth of a new card with safer chip technology, which is often referred to as a smart card, ATM users are now faced with new challenges. This challenge arises because it seems that nowadays skimming equipment is freely sold.

This is the risk of using technology. Does that mean people have to return to transactions in the pre-ATM era? The answer is of course "no". However, a new attitude—be careful and read literature to understand how to protect yourself—must accompany the use of modern technology.



Luther Simjian Biography 1905 - 1997 Luther George Simjian is a long-lived inventor and scientist. He was born in Turkey on January 28, 1905, and died on October 23, 1997 at the age of 92.




Young Simjian moved to the United States at the age of 15, after being separated from his family during World War I. After meeting his relatives in Connecticut, he began to study independently by working as a photographer in his area of ​​interest. At first, Simjian studied at Yale University by taking the field of Medicine. However, his interest changed when the University gave him a job at the Photo Lab. By 1928, he had assumed the position of Director in the Department of Photography at the University.

In 1934 Simjian moved to New York, where he developed a color X-ray machine and a self-posing portrait camera, which allowed subjects to look into a mirror and see the exact image to be taken. Armed with this discovery, Simjian founded a camera manufacturing company and sold a license to use the camera in a mini-studio placed in a Department Store under the name Photoreflex which was later replaced by the name Reflectone. This company then continues to develop optical and electro-mechanical devices.

When Simjian offered the idea of ​​getting bank customers to make financial transactions without meeting tellers, many people doubted him. Relentless, in 1939, Simjian registered 20 patents relating to his new invention, and offered his findings to a large company now known as Citicorp. Only after 6 months later, Citicorp responded to Simjian's offer.

"Apparently, the people who will use this machine are only a small number of prostitutes and gamblers who are shy and don't want to meet face to face with tellers," wrote Simjian.

Oops, it turns out that today on every street corner, we can easily find this "magic" machine. What many people doubted at that time was not proven. ATMs have become an integral part of most people who live in urban areas. Simjian's invention, which was doubtful at first, has now helped many people with the convenience of an ATM machine.