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The acronym ATM stands for Automated Teller Machine; that is a device, and how has it become part of our lives today? In the 1960s, if someone wanted to get cash out of their checking or savings account, they had to do it only during business banking hours, not just walk up to a wall with a machine to dispense money. Through this article will learn how this invention made its debut and why? Understanding the history of devices and other technology makes us not take it for granted and appreciate it more.

Since the ATM has a variety of facets that make it work, it didn’t have just one inventor but many. The earlier ATMs did allow users to withdraw cash however didn’t accept deposits like they do today. It is believed, according to, that the first initial ATM was conceived by an American Inventor named Luther Simjian. Simjian held patents on various things, including an army flight simulator, a color x-ray machine, a self-focusing camera, an exercise bike, and a teleprompter; however, he was most recognized for his Bankograph machine. A Bankograph machine could accept cash or check deposits 24 hours a day whether the bank was open or closed.

Simjian, in the 1960s, convinced a New York City bank to try a few of his automatic-deposit machines. Many were skeptical, and thus he installed a camera that recorded images of the deposits onto microfiche. Unfortunately, people were not accepting this as they still felt more comfortable talking to a banking teller in person, and there needed to be more machines to make an impact. 

People by the end of the 1960s were growing comfortable banking with an ATM, and others were at least willing to give it a try. Then in 1967, John Shepherd, a Scottish inventor, was at home in his bathtub when a eureka moment came to him. I quote, “If vending machines could dispense chocolate bars, why couldn’t they dispense cash?” Barclays, a London bank, loved the idea, and thus Shepard’s first ATM was soon installed in a branch on Enfield High Street. This machine used paper printed with radioactive ink to read them, as plastic cards were not even thought of yet. A customer would enter their ID# and then be able to retrieve their cash at any time.

The concept of having a machine to do banking is becoming more accepted, and by 1969 Donald Wetzel, a Dallas Engineer, was a former baseball player. Another improvement was that Donald’s machine used plastic cards instead of radio ink on paper. The plastic cards with magnetic strips stored the customer’s account information. Thus, this new invention caught the eye of a Chemical Bank branch on Long Island; they installed one of his new machines.

When the 1970s turned, dozens of banks decided to do what jones was doing and jump on the ATM movement. Unfortunately, it was not till 1977 that it won the approval of consumers and the chairman of Citibank. Citibank took a huge risk and invested 100 million to install these ATMs all over New York City. They saw that investment payoff when a massive blizzard hit New York, piling snow up to seventeen inches, and banks were closed for days. During the storm, management noticed that ATM usage had increased by twenty percent. Only a few days after, Citibank launched their new marketing slogan in their advertising campaign, “The Citi Never Sleeps,” which is still seen today. 

Banks from around the country jumped on board to install ATMs in their banks, and today we have close to two million of them around. Since more people make purchases with debit and credit cards for purchases, the usage of these machines has declined.

ATMs started very primitively, then progressed to what we have today. One of the benefits of the new ATMs is the ability to get your withdrawal in various bill combinations. For years, all one could get was withdrawals in twenty-dollar increments as they only had twenty-dollar bills. Today many ATMs will allow you to get your receipt via e-mail instead of losing it or just landing on the floor. 

ATMs are becoming a vital part of many people today, but do we ensure it’s safe before engaging with one of these machines? One should only use ATMs in a safe, well-lighted area with no hiding locations, which means that the ATM should be visible and present no places where a bad actor could hide to attempt to confront you and take the money you’re removing or any valuables that may be in your possession. If you need cash, use your bank’s ATMs, not those in a 24-hour gas station type store, to mitigate any bad actors. Use ATMs inside a secure area requiring your card to gain access and never open the door for anyone. 

Using an ATM might seem simple, but the most common is being aware of your surroundings. Notice anyone hanging around the machine or parked cars; leave the area and visit another location. Please always count your money after returning to your locked car or home. If a mistake is present, report it, as banks are aware of security and will be happy to investigate the error even though it was not immediately after the transaction. Lastly, trust your gut; if you are in the middle of a transaction and something feels or seems uncomfortable, cancel the transaction, and leave the area. Should you notice the person is following you, call 911 and get to a safe location: hotel lobby, busy store, police station, etc

Although the ATM has afforded us a great set of conveniences, too can be a danger, and we must be aware of any ATM area before using, during, and leaving the machine. Note that if someone attempts to rob you, don’t fight it; let them have what they want to prevent you from getting harmed. Get a good description of the person, leave the area, and then call the police. Remember to let your bank know that they will respond and fix tripped circuits or change damaged bulbs if the site is not well-lighted.