Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Memorial to John Shepherd-Barron (1925–2010) by: James U. Sy Jr.

John Shepherd-Barron, OBE, the Scotish inventor of the world's first Automatic Teller Machine (ATM), passed away last May 15, 2010 at Raigmore Hospital, Inverness, Scotland. He was 84

Shepherd-Barron was born on June 23, 1925 in Shillong, Assam (now Meghalaya), India. He was educated at the University of Edinburgh and University of Cambridge and went on to work for De La Rue Instruments in the 1960s.

Shepherd-Barron came up with the concept of his machine after being locked out of his bank. He wanted to to have access to his own money anywhere in the world. The inspiration for a cash dispensing machine came from a chocolate bar dispenser. It was the inventor's wife who asked him to use 4 digits as the standard for the ATM user's Personal Identification Number (PIN).

On June 27, 1967, the first ATM was installed at a branch of Barclays Bank in North London. According to the ATM Industry Association, today there are over 1.7M ATMs around the world. In 2004, 4 decades after his invention, Shepherd-Barron was awarded an Officers of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) as "Inventor of the Automatic Cash Dispenser."

Shepherd-Barron was survived by his wife, three sons and six grandchildren.

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