20 May 2010

Inventor of world's first ATM dies at 84

7:58 pm on 20 May 2010

A Scotsman credited with inventing the world's first automatic teller machine (ATM) has died at the age of 84 after a short illness.

John Shepherd-Barron died peacefully in hospital in Inverness, northern Scotland, on Saturday, says his funeral director, Alasdair Rhind.

The BBC reports that Mr Shepherd-Barron started thinking about how to obtain cash outside business hours after being locked out of his bank - and the eureka moment came when 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," he told the broadcaster in a 2007 interview. "I hit upon the idea of a chocolate bar dispenser, but replacing chocolate with cash."

How the four-digit pin came about

Barclays commissioned the invention and the first ATM was installed at a London bank in 1967.

The inventor had originally wanted a six-digit PIN but his wife told him over the kitchen table that she would only be able to remember four - "so because of her, four figures became the world standard."

There are now more than 1.7 million automatic cash machines worldwide, according to the ATM Industry Association.