Over 141 years Diebold Inc. has survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 (its patented safes and vaults kept their contents unharmed), John Dillinger and his gang (the company developed a tear-gas-discharging system for bank lobbies), and the scandals surrounding the "$64,000 Question" quiz show (which kept questions locked in a Diebold safe).

But the company, now the top U.S. manufacturer of automated teller machines, had a tougher time coping with the Y2K conversion and the wave of bank mergers in the late 1990s, both of which brought orders for its products to a crawl.

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