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ATM Cash Machine Inventor John Shepherd-Barron Dies Aged 84

The inventor of the very first ATM ‘hole-in-the-wall’ cash machine, John Shepherd-Barron, died in an Inverness hospital last Saturday, at the age of 84.

After arriving late to the bank one day in 1965 and finding it closed, Mr. Shepherd-Barron was motivated to try and come up with a convenient solution for withdrawing money at any time. Inspiration was reportedly drawn from snack/chocolate vending machines, and following a chance discussion with the head of Barclays Bank in 1967, the first ATM was born. The machine was located at a branch in Enfield, London.

The first ATMs were slightly different to those we are familiar with now; they operated using special cheques matched against a PIN number, rather than with the plastic cash cards they have since evolved to accept.

John Shepherd-Barron neither patented nor made any money from his invention; however, he was made an OBE in 2005 for his services to banking and recognised with a lifetime achievement award from the ATM Industry Association.

Author: Intelligent Vending Ltd

History of Vending Machines

It is widely accepted that the vending machine was first developed way back in the 1st century AD, by a Greek mathematician known as: Hero, or Hero of Alexandria (and later Heron/Heron of…). This vending machine was created to distribute holy water from temples in Egypt. It is believed the mechanics of this vending machine involved a valve which opened and released holy water when a lever was activated by a coin.

However, this particular vending machine engineer was somewhat before his time. Subsequent records of vending machine manufacture appear to be non-existent until the early 18th century, when English colonies (and also later that century, British-American colonies) used simple coin-activated ‘honour boxes’ to sell tobacco and snuff (snuff: n. inhaled or ‘smokeless’ tobacco); though this first use of modern vending machines seems debatable.

Alternative sources credit an English publisher and bookshop owner named Richard Carlisle with the first commercial vending machine (which – unsurprisingly – was used to vend books); whereas it is also documented that coin-operated vending machines to dispense postcards were introduced into London, England around the same time (during the early 1880s).

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