1. Believe it or not, the first cash dispensing machine was invented by Luther George Simjian way back in 1939. The mechanical dispenser was installed on a trial basis in New York City at the City Bank of New York. Unfortunately, it was removed after six months due to lack of customer acceptance.
2. Simjian later lamented that, “The only people using the machines were a small number of prostitutes and gamblers who didn’t want to deal with tellers face to face.”
3. Lucky for Simjian, he had a more successful invention: a training simulator that helped aviators identify different types of aircraft and determine their distance and speed. During World War II, the US Navy bought more than 2000 of them. The number of ATMs sold during that same period: 0.
4. The first modern electronic ATM was installed in 1967 by Barclays Bank in North London, United Kingdom. Although, instead of cash, the ATM dispensed vouchers.
5. The first free standing electronic ATM was installed in 1969 by Chemical Bank at its branch in Rockville Centre, New York. This device was the first machine to use a magnetic strip on plastic cards.
6. ATMs didn’t begin to proliferate until 1973, when 2000 of the machines were sold and distributed across the United States. Not everybody was happy; bankers at the time were concerned about the machine’s price tag: $162,000 in 2016 dollars. Today, an ATM can be bought for under $3000.
7. It may sound crazy, but US federal law mandates that all drive-up ATM keypads must have Braille on them. I explained the surprising reason why in this brief article.
8. TGIF: The most popular day for ATM use is Friday. On a related note, it should probably be no surprise that night clubs with ATMs end up keeping 80% of the money dispensed from their cash machines.
9. The United States currently has 420,000 ATMs — that’s more than any other country — but that may not last long because Americans are using them with decreasing frequency. From 2010 to 2015, the number of ATM transactions in the US dropped 15%.
10. Canada currently has more ATMs per capita than any other country, followed by Belgium, Australia and Russia.
11. The first ATM in China wasn’t installed until 1987.
12. From an engineering perspective, ATMs are really not technically complex; the main components consist of a computer, control panel, printer, and a special safe to hold the money. For a quick peek at the inner workings of an ATM, you can check out this cool one-minute video.
13. True Crime Stories: The first fake ATM was installed in 1993 at a shopping mall in Manchester, Connecticut. By modifying a retired ATM, a criminal gang known as The Bucklands Boys exploited information from cards inserted into the bogus machine by unwitting customers. The gang ended up with more than $100,000 before finally being caught.
15. True Crime Stories III: In 1996 a man named Andrew Stone was convicted in the UK of stealing the equivalent of more than one-million dollars by pointing high-def video cameras at ATMs from a considerable distance. After getting all the necessary information from the videotapes, he produced clone cards that allowed him to withdraw money at a rate of more than $10,000 per hour.
16. You say tomato: Automated teller machines are known by many different names. For example: ATM (US); automated banking machine, bank machine, or money machine (Australia, Canada); cashpoint, or cash machine (UK, New Zealand); bancomat (Europe).
17. No matter what you call them, there are now 3 million cash machines all over the world. Heck, there’s even an ATM at McMurdo station in Antarctica. Talk about cold hard cash.
18. ATMs in high-traffic locations can hold as much as $100,000. Presumably, that ATM in Antarctica is a smaller model.
Photo Credit: Mike Mozart