Cash machine celebrates its 40th birthday

Staff Reporter

Staff Reporter

Yesterday Barclays celebrated the 40th year since the first ATM transaction was done by Reg Varney, a popular British comedian, at the bank's Enfield branch in North London.

The ATM was invented by John Shepherd-Barron, a managing director of De La Rue, whilerelaxing in his bath one day. He presented the idea to Harold Darvill, chief general manager of Barclays, who committed Barclays to buying the machines immediately. The machines were developed jointly by De La Rue and Barclays and swiftly moved from conception to installation within 24 months in order to beat the competition.

Shepherd-Barron said: "I am delighted that the cash machine is still going strong. I remember back in 1965 that I would always take money out of my bank on a Saturday morning. However, one Saturday I was one minute late at my bank and it was closed. I had to ask my local garage to cash my cheque. That night I started thinking that there must be a better way to get cash when I wanted it. I thought of the chocolate vending machine where money was put in a slot and a bar was dispatched - surely money could be dispensed in the same way. Within two years my idea had become reality and we opened the first cash machine at Barclays Enfield."

The first two ATMs in South Africa were installed by United - a forerunner of Absa - at its Johannesburg branch in 1977. The terminals, called Help U Auto Tellers, enabled customers to make deposits, withdrawals and certain account enquiries with the use of a transaction card and personal identity number. By the mid-1980s, there were about 700 ATMs in South Africa, the fifth largest number of ATMs in the world.