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The Almighty Buck Hardware

History of the Automatic Teller 473

Posted by michael
from the pay-to-play dept.
XopherMV writes "The line was long and slow, and he became increasingly irritated as his lunch hour dribbled away. All at once, he had a flash of inspiration. 'Golly, all the teller does is cash checks, take deposits, answer questions like "What's my balance?" and transfer money between accounts,' recalls Wetzel, now 75 and still living in Dallas with his wife. 'Wow, I think we could build a machine that could do that!' And with a $4 million go-ahead from Docutel's parent company, that's exactly what he and his engineers did. Read more about the story of the ATM."
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History of the Automatic Teller

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  • cold trip (Score:5, Funny)

    by jeffy124 (453342) on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:39AM (#9778709) Homepage Journal
    There is even one, for some reason, at the McMurdo Station on Antarctica.

    I would hate to be the armored truck driver responsible for keeping that one filled.
    • Re:cold trip (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Deadstick (535032) on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:59AM (#9778908)
      My favorite one is at the town bank in Oberwesel, Germany. If you want to use it after hours, you stick your card through a slot in a medieval stone wall and a great iron gate slides open with a gentle hum.

      rj
    • Re:cold trip (Score:3, Informative)

      by Mateito (746185)
      The ATM in McMurdo is a Wells Fargo machine. I don't know who fills it up with cash, but if they run out, you have to walk to the closet bank: The Chilean "Banco de Creditos y Inversiones" (BCI) located at the chilean base. Its the only Bank on the continent, and there is a several-year-long waiting list for bank staff to get posted down there for six months. Usually less for the experience, and more for the "distance bonus" which is calculated on number of kilometers from home.

      Chances are tho, her english
  • It is just stupid (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anne_Nonymous (313852) on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:42AM (#9778737) Homepage Journal
    that I can get a transaction receipt from a Diebold ATM, but not from a Diebolt voting machine.
    • Actually, you're not too far off from what I've been saying for a while. If the folks at Diebold et al feel that a verifiable paper trail is not needed then the same should apply to when they go shopping for food, clothes, etc.

      After all, if the computers are claimed to be correct in tabulating votes then the same can be said about totaling ones food bill.

      Besides, what's a few cents here and there when calculating the price of a box of dried macaroni?
  • by Nplugd (662449) on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:43AM (#9778745) Homepage
    Remembers me of Friends when it was still funny:
    Monica: (to everyone) It's Chandler! (on phone) Are you OK?

    Chandler: Yeah, I'm fine. (trying to cover up what he is saying) I'm trppd in an ATM vstbl wth Jll Gdcr.

    Monica: What?

    Chandler: I'm trppd... in an ATM vstbl... wth Jll Gdcr!

    Monica: I have no idea what you just said.

    Chandler: (angry) Put Joey on the phone.

    Joey: What's up man?

    Chandler: I'm trppd... in an ATM vstbl... wth JLL GDCR.

    Joey: (to everyone) Oh my God! He's trapped in an ATM vestibule with Jill Goodacre! (on phone) Chandler, listen. (says something intentionally garbled)

    Chandler: Yeah, like that thought never entered my mind.
  • by millahtime (710421) on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:43AM (#9778748) Homepage Journal
    Think of all the people that invention has helped out in a bind...

    Politicians when they need money for their hookers, no more personal checks.

    When all those dirty old men run out of money at the strip club they can hit the atm

    And, me when I need bar money late at night (I won't take a credit card cause then there goes the bank)
  • by HarveyBirdman (627248) on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:43AM (#9778749) Journal
    I was sitting waiting for a haircut a few weeks back, and spied a copy of Biography (like the show) magazine. I picked it up and read listing of contents. They had names and occupations for each biography.

    Actor. Actor. Actor. Actor. Actor. Actor. Actor. Jock. Actor. Actor. Jock. Actor. Actor. Jock.

    I've heard they have a busniessman once in a while, but only the billionaire figurehead type.

    Think they'd ever do a biography of the guy who invented one of best convenience devices ever created? No. I guess that's boring compared to Dubiously-Talented-Generic-Actress-Bint fretting over how hard it is to find a good sitter for her children's cat as they go on vacation to the South of France.

    And people wonder why I'm a misanthrope.

  • by TopShelf (92521) on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:44AM (#9778752) Homepage Journal
    ATM's are certainly great for when you need quick access to cash, particularly when you're travelling abroad, but an even better development has been the debit card. I find that I hardly ever carry cash anymore, as the debit card is not only convenient (no change jingling in your pocket), but also makes tracking much easier if you use something like Quicken or Money.
    • The idea of having my checking account cleaned out because a clerk hit a couple of extra zeroes on the authorization machine has always scared me away from use of debit cards at point of sale. I prefer to use a credit card and just pay for it at the end of the month.
      • That's ridiculous. When you go to type in your PIN it says the amount owing right there. If there's an error, it can be corrected before the transaction goes anywhere near you money.

        Me, I miss the old IBM ATMs with the glowing red thin slit readout and small card balance receipts, they fit so perfectly in the same space that a bank card fits. None of this bollocks on screen pretty graphics, just a bank of different coloured buttons (one for withdrawal actions, one for deposits) and a sensible layout.

        Grant
        • No, it's not ridiculous. Not all places require PIN entry--some process them on the same authorization network as credit cards, and don't have PIN terminals. That, and as the other poster pointed out, debit cards don't have the built in legal protections (e.g. Fair Credit Billing Act) that credit cards do.
      • I got mailed a debit card back when they first became available from my bank. Trouble is, the card was mailed unsolicited and the Visa portion of it was pre-activated. All I had to do according to the letter that accompanied it was go out and start spending.

        I was outraged, naturally, and cut the card into small bits and told the bank I would not accept a debit card. I ranted on misc.consumers about it and ultimately got quoted in a story about debit cards in US News. (My 0:00.15 of fame).

        The thing I di
        • 1) Some of us aren't credit worthy enough to get an actual credit card. I'm not.

          2) If a parent wants to allow a teenager to have their allowance on a debit card, it's easier to control the amount that's available to spend.
        • What I don't get, though, is if you're a huge fan of debit cards, why wouldn't you just use a credit card?

          For me, one reason - discipline. Or lack thereof. With a debit card, I can't overspend, and the bill is taken care of instantly. On credit, I could see making a slightly overbudget purchase, promising myself I'll make up for it, and then not. And then getting hit with interest.

          Also, I don't like signing things. I'd rather hit 5 buttons in a half-sec than fiddle with those electronic pens and tin

    • I used to like Debit Cards too; and then I tried to bring up a case of fraud to my bank. The jerks stone-walled me and sat on their fat asses. It was actually the WEB SITE that said "Yeah, you don't live in khazakstan. This is Fraud. We'll be giving you a credit. Have a nice day."

      The bank then "refused" my fraud report saying "oh, you got your money back." Assholes.

      Use a credit card; especially one with frequent flyer miles.
      I don't carry cash anymore; I use my credit card. And I get double miles at ce
  • other denoms (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Skadet (528657) on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:44AM (#9778753) Homepage
    It's a fantastic invention, indeed...

    But it'll be much, much cooler when I can snag $10 or $15 or $75 out of the machine. Why do we get only 20s?
    • It takes a machine of far less complexity to issue on $20.00 increments. It also reduces the chances for human error, like loading tens in the twenties slot. That of course could be overcome with a machine capable of reading the bills it dispenses, but your back to that "complexity" thing.

      • How on earth do you get a $10 bill and a $20 bill mixed up? Bank notes of different denominations are different physical sizes, so people with poor eyesight can check their change.
    • Re:other denoms (Score:2, Informative)

      by solive1 (799249)
      Many of the ATMs I go to now let you get money in $10 increments. Perhaps it's a security reason that they don't have smaller denominatons, or maybe they'd just need a bigger machine (that wouldn't fit in a standard ATM "hole in the wall" for lack of a better term). Actually, they might be available, but banks don't want to switch out all those expensive machines when they're working just fine.

      In a perfect world, the ATM would give you any amount of cash you asked for (provided it was in your account),
    • I would guess that 20s are a nice intermediate denomination. It probably keeps the machines mechanically simpler. If you try to get too cute, extra mechanical complexity can bite the maintainer and owners in terms of cost and time wasted, and cause more problems than the extra little convenienve solves.

      I'd say, just take the extra money. For me, the minimum flat fee bites, so it's not worth taking out less than $20 anyway, and for an amount like $75, you may just as well take the extra, you'll find a us
      • by ximenes (10)
        The real problem with "yuppie food stamps" ($20 bills) is that they're worthless in a lot of contexts. Need quarters to do laundry? It may be hard to find a changer that takes things other than 1's, 5's, and 10's. Even if it does take 20's, some machines will accept the bill if it has less than $20 in change inside it and then give you $5 or $10 worth.

        The moral of the story is, I hate 20's.
    • There's an ATM right around the corner from my apartment that allows withdrawls in 10 dollar increments. I've seen quite a few in the area, as a matter of fact. Nothing as precise to offer 5 or 1 increments yet, and no coinage either.
      • Nothing as precise to offer 5 or 1 increments yet, and no coinage either.

        I used to bank at a credit union whose ATMs dispensed $1, $5, $10, and $20 bills, as well as coin. Kind of cool, because you could use the ATM to cash checks that you received, instead of only being able to deposit it or having to take it to the teller....

    • I've seen some ATMs on or near college campuses that give out denoms in $5 increments. Granted they take $2.50 in fees but they'll give you want you want.
    • Lots of them used to do $5's and $10's, but they'd constantly run out of $20's. Ever wonder what $100 in $5's is like? A pain in the ass is what it is!

      Since stores around here have started taking $50's and $100's again, some of the machines have started spitting those denominations out.
    • >But it'll be much, much cooler when I can snag $10 or $15 or $75 out of the machine. Why do we get only 20s?

      The ATM machine in the lobby where i work dishes out 1s, 5s, 10s, and 20s. Is great if I want to hit the vending machines. There are some advantages to working at a bank. :)

      -sam

  • After the technology had earned the trust of once highly skeptical customers, an amazing transformation began to take place: Face-to-face business became face-to-interface, and it changed the way people consumed.

    Ironically, the same thing happened with sex around the same time.
    • > > After the technology had earned the trust of once highly skeptical customers, an amazing transformation began to take place: Face-to-face business became face-to-interface, and it changed the way people consumed.
      >
      > Ironically, the same thing happened with sex around the same time.

      So either the story of the erect Macaque [slashdot.org] is a dupe, or that a crippled monkey invented the ATM. There's a Diebold alpha-male-selection machine joke in there too, I'll bet!

  • by sczimme (603413) on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:49AM (#9778800)

    From the article:

    The success of the ATM inspired similar innovations (some more frustrating than others) in a number of nonfinancial industries as well. Full-service gas stations have all but given way to credit card-primed gas pumps. Delta Air Lines has 846 do-it-yourself check-in terminals in 83 U.S. cities. Kroger has self-check-out lanes in more than 1,400 supermarkets. And you can find similar aisles in 850 Home Depot stores.

    Pay-at-the-pump stations are so convenient I will not use a traditional pay-inside gas pump unless absolutely necessary, even if it means going a bit out of my way. The self-service check-in option at the airport is a $DEITYsend, too: not checking any bags? Why muck around behind people who have never before seen the inside of an airport? Identify yourself to the kiosk with a credit card or frequent flyer card, get the boarding pass and go.

    I find the self-serve lanes at store rather less useful, but am amazed at how quickly the ATM model has become both widespread and nearly indispensable.
    • The pay at the pump gas thing is great. The ATM concept shows through well there. One of my cars is a diesel, and not all diesel pumps have the credit card slot. It really is alot more of a pain to have to pay inside, tell the guy you want deisel, blah blah.

      As far as the fast-checkin at the airport. Great! For business travelling I just walk up, swpie a card, hit a couple buttons and be on my way. This leaves the vacationers and longer-term business people (checking bags) to stand in their (now much
      • Some of those self-checkout machines at the supermarket are a LOT harder to use than others. I came across the worst example recently...

        I kid you not, to check out at this thing, you must:

        - Place your items on a "shelf" on one side of the machine.
        - Tell the machine how many grocery bags you will use (how the hell am I supposed to know this BEFORE I pack everything?)
        - Put one of your bags on a "filling rack" on the other side of the machine. Not putting the bag in this rack causes the system to not allow y
  • by John Murdoch (102085) on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:49AM (#9778802) Homepage Journal

    In the (relatively) early days of ATMs a couple of crooks bought a machine, built a nice-looking case around it, and rolled it into a shopping mall. They programmed it to report that "your transaction could not be completed--please try again later." Of course, it wasn't connected to anything--except a recorder that was logging all the ATM card numbers and the customer-entered PINs. The crooks came back, rolled away the ATM, and drained the bank accounts of the poor folks who tried to use the machine.

    • great minds... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Random_Goblin (781985)
      funnily enough, that was exactly the same story [stanford.edu] that came to my mind. You would have though they would have got more than $3000 though

      over here in the UK the machines tended to be built into brick walls (hence the expression "i'm just getting some cash from the hole in the wall")

      this has led to enterprising thieves using a JCB to steal the whole damn thing [eircom.net] netting a cool $140,000.

      just goes to show, that like so much in life, the real money isn't in making something, it's in stealing someone elses.
    • In the (relatively) early days of ATMs a couple of crooks bought a machine, built a nice-looking case around it, and rolled it into a shopping mall. They programmed it to report that "your transaction could not be completed--please try again later." Of course, it wasn't connected to anything--except a recorder that was logging all the ATM card numbers and the customer-entered PINs. The crooks came back, rolled away the ATM, and drained the bank accounts of the poor folks who tried to use the machine.

      My fa

    • My fave, from when ATMs were just beginning to appear in convenience stores and gas bars.

      Some theives stole and entire ATM from a gas bar. The ATM was (of course) secured, and the ATM guys were proud of their anti-theft bolts.. it would take an experienced welder 20-30 minutes to free the ATM, which would (of course) give the police lots of time to respond to the alarm.

      The theives didn't have a welder.

      They backed a cargo van through the side of the store, drove a forklift out of it, ripped the ATM out o
  • Ya think? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Otter (3800) on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:49AM (#9778806) Journal
    What you might find truly surprising, however, is that as a rule, large banks actually lose money on these moneymakers--at a rate of about $250 a month per machine. They are, ironically, loss leaders, since banks don't generally charge their own customers if they use the banks' machines.

    Uh, no kidding? Guess what -- tellers cost them money too!

    Obviously, banks make their money on 1) lending out deposits and 2) account fees. Everything else is just designed to get money into the vault, and ATMs are a vastly cheaper way of supporting customers than branches and tellers.

    Actually, it's probably just lending out deposited money that's their real business. My impression is that the account fees function more to weed out unprofitable customers than to make money in their own right.

    • large banks actually lose money on these moneymakers--at a rate of about $250 a month per machine

      OK, so what does a bank teller make in a month, including benefits and payroll taxes? Add the overhead cost of the human teller (the floor space he occupies, his parking space, maintenance of the bathroom he uses, the time his boss spends supervising him, etc.). Multiply this by three since the ATM works all three shifts, subtract $250, and you have the net benefit to the bank.

      rj

  • But... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Zog The Undeniable (632031) on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:50AM (#9778811)
    The halcyon period of the ATM could be over, at least in the UK, as the number of machines that charge up to 1.75UKP for a 10UKP withdrawal continues to increase. Some of the big banks are selling off their networks to the fee-charging operators, although it's possible to make very good money from an ATM network on interchange fees alone.

    A tip for /. readers driving in the UK: only stop at Moto service stations when using the motorway network. They use free ATMs; most of the others have signed up with the fee-charging vampires.

    • This is indeed a worrying trend. But surely it's technically illegal anyway? Doesn't charging people a fee to access their own money constitute running a protection racket?

      I've never understood why the banks charge each other fees, either. The law of averages says they will get it all back. Sure, HSBC cash machines get extra wear and tear from Nat West customers using them sometimes -- but chances are that HSBC customers will be causing wear and tear on Nat West machines. The law of averages ought to

  • Once again, we never get to hear the other side. [blotspens.co.uk]
    Damned liberal media...
  • by Dark Lord Seth (584963) on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:55AM (#9778856) Journal

    Here in the middle of the Netherlands, ATM and their bastard offspring have become an issue. Oh, they work nicely enough, do what they are supposed to do and of course we got the random bulgarian fuckwits who attach magnetic card readers, so our ATMs work just like any other ATM. The problem is the fact that banks use ATMs as a cheap means to close down local establishments. Instead of talking to a human person, banks now give us two ATMs to withdraw money, another specialized ATM-like thingy to deposit money and a big sticker with an URL on it to their online banking site. ( Which, if I may add, works perfectly with Mozilla. Go ABN-Amro! *ahem* )

    For daily stuff this isn't much of an issue and the town where I live in is considered large enough ( 100k+ ) for banks to have permanent establishments, but what about smaller towns? Because this is the middle of nowhere, there are plenty of towns without bank establishments, where it was cheaper for the bank to put an ATM or two in place, promote online banking and telling people to go fuck themselves. Even though for daily use ATM suffice, how about non-daily things? Stuff like opening new accounts, information, major transactions*, mortages and supplemental financial services?

    Mind you, this is the Netherlands. Almost no one here has creditcards and instead most of us pay directly from our bank accounts using our bank's card with our PIN. Think of it as an ATM which pays your purchases, comparable to a debit card.

    * ) This means anything about EUR 1500 because of the default limit of EUR 1500 max withdrawal per day. Basically, we've got three options if we want to buy something EUR 1500+; use the ATM once a day for several days, raise the limit at a bank establishment and withdraw money at said bank establishment. ( Limits dont apply for non-ATM withdrawals ) Of course, since most establishments have been closed and allot of people around here live in the middle of nowhere, options 2 and 3 aren't really valid unless you want to travel 25km in the hope of finding a local bank establishment. Try paying for a EUR 20k car that way.

    • Sadly, the banks went over the hill.

      Sorry, but which hills in the Netherlands? :P
    • want to travel 25km in the hope of finding a local bank establishment. Try paying for a EUR 20k car that way.

      OMFG, to travel 25km to get 20.000 euro's from you bank account.. it should not be possible...

      There are ppl who have to travel for DAYS to get just 1 euro equivalent from their accounts.

      Americans have to drive several miles to get to the nearest town for banking business as well.. but several need to be read as slightly more then 25km.. more in the range of 100 miles.

      I mean, who the fuck are you
  • Oh no... an entire article with thousands of threads dedicated to calling them ATM Machines. My nitpikc nerves are ready and waiting to have their seizure.
  • Queueing (Score:2, Funny)

    by dragonp12 (798787)
    "The line was long and slow, and he became increasingly irritated as his lunch hour dribbled away."

    So now, instead of waiting on a teller, we wait in a long line of people trying to get to the ATM with the person at the front repeatedly putting in his card while all the time muttering under his breath "I'm sure I had money in here!"
  • Sexist comment (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pubjames (468013) on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:55AM (#9778864)

    Sorry, this is going to come across a bit sexist, but it's an observation of mine that I think is true.

    When women use cashpoints, they will often get out tiny amounts of money. Like, ten or twenty pounds. When men use them, they get out much bigger quantities, so they don't have to visit them so often.

    I've had girlfriends that have driven me nuts getting out ten pounds, and then a few hours later having to hunt for a cashpoint so they can do it again.

    Is this a valid observation or am I just a sexist?
    • Re:Sexist comment (Score:3, Insightful)

      by smellystudent (663516)
      I think it's the same principle as my girlfriend putting ten pounds worth of petrol in her car every other day, instead of just filling the tank once a week - if she's got less, she's less likely to use it.

      You know the feeling - wallet full of notes, let's go and spend some!
    • Re:Sexist comment (Score:2, Interesting)

      by angrist (787928)
      I've observed the same thing, not 100% of the time, but an easily visable trend.

      It seems like a difference in planning mentalities. (Disclaimer - these are only personally observed trends, not blanket statements) Another example is the difference in mall shopping methods. Women that I know will go from store to store in a seemingly random order, traversing the entire mall several times. Men on the other hand figure out where exactly they have to go and make one circuit and leave.

      Someone with experience in
      • Re:Sexist comment (Score:3, Interesting)

        by pubjames (468013)
        Someone with experience in psychology care to explain this?

        Read "Men are from Mars, women are from Venus". It's quite interesting on how men and women think differently.

        I have to say, it actually helped me a lot - I was having loads of arguments with my girlfriend at the time, and that book made me realise that the root of the arguments was often that we were treating the same subject in very different ways.

        The gist of it is that men always try to fix things - they talk to solve problems. However women
      • Re:Sexist comment (Score:4, Interesting)

        by N0decam (630188) on Friday July 23, 2004 @10:27AM (#9779175) Homepage
        Hunter, meet gatherer...

        Cavemen would hunt, while the women would gather. Hunting produces large amounts of food at once, but it then has to be stored, while gatherers produce a more steady stream of lesser quantities.

        At least that's what Age of Empires taught me.
    • Just because you're right, its still kinda wrong ;)

      But yes- my wife says "Just get out 40", knowing full well that she'll be taking 35... leaving me for the week with, 5? Yeah, thanks for looking out honey. I simply ignore her and grab 100.
      • Just because you're right, its still kinda wrong ;)

        Why is it wrong? Pretending there are no differences between men and women might be politically correct, but I don't think it is necessarily helpful. In fact I think it is the root of many social problems today.
        • pretending that all women are exactly alike is the root of many social problems today. I'm not saying that men and woman are exactly alike; I'm going the step further and saying that all women aren't exactly alike.
    • When women use cashpoints, they will often get out tiny amounts of money

      The only time I take money out is when I go to my local pub. As men generaly drink more then women AND get drinks offerd by (drunken) men, they could need less money.

      Now if only I dared talking to them. :-)
    • Is this a valid observation or am I just a sexist?

      Not valid in my experience - my colleagues (male) do just the same thing.

      They jusitfy this by claiming higher interest since their money's in the bank and not in their pockets, but it smells like BS to me - I wonder what it's costing them in time and petrol to go to a machine every day.
  • by mark2003 (632879) on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:56AM (#9778867)
    Why is the hero of this story the chap in Dallas and not the guy in Enfield? Although his invention didn't have all the functionality of the moden machines it also allowed access to cash 24 hours a day, rather like cashing a cheque.

    Would it be outrageous to supose that this spin might be because the inventor of the machine in Enfield was not American? Not that I would suggest Americans ever revise history...
    • First all they DID call him the inventor. Specifically they said "Another tale gives credit to John Shepherd-Barron". The words "gives credit" mean they called him the inventor.

      Yes they concentrated on the guy from dallas, but that was reasonable. The last bit of functionality is important. It was only after they made the card instantly returnable that they started to spread and become

  • 'Wow, I think we could build a machine that could do that!' And with a $4 million go-ahead from Docutel's parent company, that's exactly what he and his engineers did.

    Imagine that!

  • take deposits ... 'Wow, I think we could build a machine that could do that!'

    Wow, you can make *deposits* at those things???
  • I'm quizzical about the $250 loss figure reported in the article. Is that the cost, or the loss? If it costs $250/month to run an ATM, I'd like the bank to find a human teller who works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for $250 a month. If the ATM costs $250/month more than a human teller's salary, consider that a teller is operating 160 hours a month vs. an atm operating $744. Either way the ATM is saving the bank money. The $250/month figure to me just seems like their excuse to keep the $2 service fees.
  • There was an ATM in the student union when I was in college (early 80s) that was a freestanding model. For whatever reason, the telecomm line and the modem were both exposed.

    The naive idea we had was to monitor the line and then perform a man-in-the-middle attack and continuously withdraw money, the idea being that we would spoof the machine into thinking we had more money in our accounts than we did.

    It was dumb for a number of reasons -- using our own bank cards, assuming it was a 'normal' 1200 baud mod
  • by david.given (6740) <dg@cowl a r k .com> on Friday July 23, 2004 @10:28AM (#9779183) Homepage Journal
    My uncle was the manager responsible for the group at Barclay's Bank that introduced the first ATMs into the UK. He used to tell stories about having to juggle all the various political camps involved.

    One of them involved the two rival implementations, both with fairly large followings of engineers: there first one involved the card contained a unique ID that was keyed to a central database, requiring every ATM to be connected to the database in order to authorise connections. This is the one we use today.

    The second one involved having all the necessary information, such as the account balance, stored directly on the card. This meant that an ATM could authorise a transaction instantly without needing to communicate with the base. This was popular because it was faster, cheaper, much simpler, and allowed all kinds of nice features like mobile ATMs.

    Apparently there were quite a lot of engineers and other managers who didn't understand why having all this information on the card was a bad idea...

    So, if you ever use an ATM in the UK, remember my Uncle Ron, who managed to persuade the people in charge that the more expensive, more complex system was in fact the right way to go!

  • The magic of ATMs became clear to me when, after three years living as a volunteer in a Chaddian village, I put my bankcard into a machine in the Paris airport and within a couple of seconds I had the computer saying my name: "Bienvenue First Last". In contrast to finding moneychangers in the back alleys of crowded markets, this was truely amazing.

    It was then that I realized how ATMs contributed to the easy flow of money which is making globalization a reality.
  • This is second hand, but I believe the source. He worked with a company designing some of the first ATMs (not sure which). One day, there was a big demo, with lots of press, etc. on hand to see the new machine in action. As Murphy's Law would have it, the ATM quit working that morning. But the show must go on, so they crammed an engineer in the thing and had him shove bills through on cue.
  • Interesting, I was just explaining to my gf last night, how ATMs work, and how scams work. CSI's episode, involved a guy placing a fake card reader in front of the ATM's real card reader, and a camera to capture the PIN number they enter.

    Not to mention, I work for a bank's data processing center, who also controls their own network of ATMs.

    I know most of you are going to be thinking of how wacky Diebold is, and their corner on the market; but here is something for you to consider. Iowa, by law, all thei

  • Years ago, I worked for a company that serviced ATM's. We did service for Docutel, Mosler, and a couple of others. Part of my job was handling the software bug reports, passing them back to the proper companies. The ones for the ATM's were always the most interesting.

    In the late 70's, for example, one of the vendors had to supply a patch for ATM's installed in Illinois because customers could use an ATM at any bank branch. It seems that Illinois had a law at the time that only allowed customers to bank
  • One thing this article didn't mention was a precursor to the ATM. Way way back in the late 60s or early 70s, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in Yorkdale Mall, North York, had a machine that if you put in a card and (I think) a PIN, it would dispense a sealed envelope with $30 in it and return your card. No more, no less. If you wanted $60, you had to do the process twice. But back then, $30 was a lot of money.

    One thing I miss about the IBM ATMs that only had a single line of text was that if you
  • The article says:

    "What you might find truly surprising, however, is that as a rule, large banks actually lose money on these moneymakers--at a rate of about $250 a month per machine. They are, ironically, loss leaders, since banks don't generally charge their own customers if they use the banks' machines."

    If that's the case, then are human tellers also considered loss leaders? I'm sure a human teller costs more than $250 a month.

  • My ATM story (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ortholattice (175065) on Friday July 23, 2004 @10:40AM (#9779316)
    Around 1999 or so, the ATM cards of BankBoston (now Fleet or something) actually had the PIN number stored in plain text in the magnetic stripe. You could go to the Computer Museum in Boston and use the magnetic stripe reader they had on display for people to play with, and see your PIN number in the displayed text on a monitor connected to the reader. I got nowhere when reporting this to BankBoston. I felt like I was beating my head against the wall talking to idiots. Their basic response was that it was extremely irresponsible and probably illegal (or at least should be) for the Computer Museum to have a card reader exhibit, that the public does not have a right to see proprietary information embedded in the magnetic stripe. They just could not seem to grasp the basic security problem - if the card was lost or stolen, the "protection" afforded by the PIN number was essentially useless. It was the ultimate security by obscurity.

    I would hope they've finally recognized the problem and fixed it now, but I haven't checked recently. Actually I would be very surprised if at some point this wasn't discovered by not-so-friendly people, forcing them to address the issue, but this would be the kind of suppressed stuff you wouldn't find in their press releases.

  • by spectecjr (31235) on Friday July 23, 2004 @01:17PM (#9781139) Homepage
    From what I remember of the Seattle Underground tour, there were (nearly) 24/7 "ATMs" running in Seattle in the 1900's.

    Specifically, there were booths dotted around the place which had tellers sitting in them. Same exact idea, but without the "A" part of "ATM".
  • by MonkeyCookie (657433) on Friday July 23, 2004 @01:52PM (#9781551)
    Like those new self-checkout cash registers, ATMs gained popularity because they saved the banks money. They didn't have to hire as many employees or open as many branches, which was a great cost-saving measure.

    The difference between the self-checkout cash registers and ATMs is that ATMs are generally much more convenient and quicker to use.

    Those self-checkout things are absolutely horrible. It would be one thing if you simply had to scan it and throw it in the bag, paying at the end. But no, it can't be that simple! You have to constantly mess around with the screen, constantly adding and removing items from the bagging area, and the stupid machine is getting pissed off with you for putting the wrong item in the wrong place at the wrong time. Not to mention the things often can't figure out how to handle certain items, so you have to wait for an employee to help you. Waiting in line for a cashier is almost always much faster and easier. The stupid machines are just popular because the company saves money by not having to hire as many employees.

    Get a clue, companies! Either keep your employees or make your self-checkout machines quick and easy!
  • by wickedj (652189) on Friday July 23, 2004 @02:06PM (#9781706) Homepage
    The ATM at my bank is so popular that it is actually faster to walk in, find a live teller and do your transaction than it is to sit outside in a line waiting for the ATM. Is that ironic? Depends on how you define irony.

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