ATM Inventor Dead at 84
John Shepherd-Baron, the Scotsman who has been recognized as the inventor of the Automated Teller Machine has died in Inverness, Scotland. He was 84.
Born in India to British parents, Shepherd-Baron obtained an engineering degree in Scotland was inspired early in his career to address the need for an ATM. Shepherd-Baron's first device was inspired by the tokens he saw bus drivers using to get gas a certain service stations.
His first device used a sort of check that was impregnated with radioactive Carbon-14, which required the user to punch in a six digit access code, according to an obituary in The Scotsman. The six digit access code became four after his wife advised Shepherd-Baron that she could not remember a number with more than four digits, the obituary reported.
"John Shepherd-Barron's invention of the cash dispenser revolutionized banking," commented Mike Lee, CEO of the ATM Industry Association, "and spawned a worldwide industry with an installation base that has grown to over 1.8 million ATMs."
In 2006, ATMIA presented Mr. Shepherd-Barron with a Lifetime Achievement Award. He received an OBE for services to banking in the Queen's New Year Honours List in 2005. Near the end of his life, he stated that he had used ATMs successfully for over forty years.
"I was privileged to interview Mr. Shepherd-Barron in 2001 and to finally meet him when we presented him with a lifetime achievement award on behalf of the industry," said Lee. "He was a charming gentleman of strong convictions who was not afraid to challenge the status quo. I will never forget his words when he described how he conceived of the ATM in the bath one Saturday evening. He said he decided then and there "if chocolates can be dispensed, why can't cash?'"