This Day in History (27-Jun-1967) – The world’s first ATM is installed in Enfield, London

ATM Inspiration had struck Mr Shepherd-Barron, employee of  the printing firm De La Rue. while he was in the bath. “It struck me there must be a way I could get my own money, anywhere in the world or the UK. I hit upon the idea of a chocolate bar dispenser, but replacing chocolate with cash.” When Shepherd-Barron took the idea to Barclays, Barclays was convinced immediately. The then chief executive signed a hurried contract with Shepherd-Barron. The world’s first ATM was installed in a branch of Barclays in Enfield, north London.  Actor Reg Varney, from the television series ‘On the Buses’, was the first to withdraw cash. Shepherd-Barron’s machine used cheques that were impregnated with carbon 14, a mildly radioactive substance. The machine detected it, then matched the cheque against a Pin number.  The ATMS were at that time called DACS for De La Rue Automatic Cash System.

The machine paid out a maximum of £10 a time. The first machines were vandalised, and one that was installed in Zurich in Switzerland began to malfunction mysteriously. It was later discovered that the wires from two intersecting tramlines nearby were sparking and interfering with the mechanism. One by-product of inventing the first cash machine was the concept of the Pin number. Mr Shepherd-Barron came up with the idea when he realised that he could remember his six-figure army number. But he decided to check that with his wife, Caroline. “Over the kitchen table, she said she could only remember four  figures, so because of her, four figures became the world standard”.

Shepherd-Barron never patented his ATM invention, instead he decided to try to keep his technology a trade secret. The reasoning was that, applying for a patent would have involved disclosing the coding system, which in turn would have enabled criminals to work the code out.



This Day in History (16-Jun-1911) – IBM founded as the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company in Endicott, New York

In the 1880s, various technologies came into existence that would form part of IBM’s predecessor company. Julius E. Pitrat patented the computing scale in 1885; Alexander Dey invented the dial recorder in 1889, Herman Hollerith patented the Electric Tabulating Machine and Willard Bundy invented a time clock to record a worker’s arrival and departure time on a paper tape. On June 16, 1911, these technologies and their respective companies were merged by Charles Ranlett Flint to form the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company (C-T-R). The New York City-based company had 1,300 employees. It manufactured and sold machinery ranging from commercial scales and industrial time recorders to meat and cheese slicers, along with tabulators and punched cards.

Eventually The company focused on providing large-scale, custom-built tabulating solutions for businesses, leaving the market for small office products to others and expanded to Europe, South America, Asia, and Australia. In 1924, C-T-R was renamed the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), citing the need to align its name with the “growth and extension of its activities”. IBM is also known as “Big Blue” after the color of its logo. The company has made everything from mainframes to personal computers and has been immensely successful selling business computers.

In 2012, Fortune ranked IBM the No. 2 largest U.S. firm in terms of number of employees (435,000 worldwide), the No. 4 largest in terms of market capitalization. Notable inventions by IBM include the automated teller machine (ATM), the floppy disk, the hard disk drive, the magnetic stripe card, the relational database, the Universal Product Code (UPC), the financial swap, the RDBMS and SQL, SABRE airline reservation system, DRAM, and Watson artificial intelligence.