The evolution of the ATM
Automated teller machines have come a long way since Barclays rolled out the world’s first ATM at a branch in north London 50 years ago. Here’s a look at some of the milestone moments and key innovations in ATM technology over the past five decades.
The first ATMs
The ATM made its debut on June 27, 1967, at a Barclays branch in the Enfield neighborhood in north London. A little over two years later, on Sept. 2, 1969, Chemical Bank installed the first U.S. ATM at its branch in Rockville Centre on Long Island, New York. The machine was initially known as a Docuteller because it was manufactured by the firm Docutel and, like most early ATMs, its use was limited only to customers of the bank. Shared ATMs, in which consumers could use another bank’s ATM to withdraw funds from their accounts, were introduced roughly a decade later.
NCR, the Duluth, Ga.-based ATM maker, takes credit for the first drive-up ATM, which it says was installed in Baton Rouge, La., in 1980. The machines were a logical successor to drive-up teller windows, which had been around for decades. Last year, NCR reported that more than 95% of its drive-up ATMs were located in the United States, a reflection of our country’s car-focused culture.
Not just cash dispensers
Over the years, ATMs have been designed to dispense not only cash, but also such items as stamps, movie tickets and prepaid cards. According to news reports, Pittsburgh-based Equibank was the first bank to offer stamps through its ATMs back in 1988, though it wasn’t until many years later that other banks followed suit, with mixed results. Capital One Bank inherited hundreds of stamp-dispensing ATMs in the Washington, D.C., area when it acquired Chevy Chase Bank in 2009 but eventually discontinued the service.
These machines have been seen as an improvement over the Braille keypads that blind customers long relied upon. The first one was installed at San Francisco City Hall in 1999. In the years since, they have become commonplace.
These machines are a hybrid between an ATM and a traditional branch experience, where customer might have a face-to-face conversation with a banker. Bank of America and Citizens Bank of Edmond, in Oklahoma, are among the institutions that have embraced the technology in recent years.
These machines allow customers to withdraw cash with only their smart phones. Customers receive a one-time code on their phone, which they enter into the ATM, along with their PIN. Wells Fargo announced earlier this year that all 13,000 of its ATMs are equipped with the technology. Some smaller institutions, including WSFS Bank, in Wilmington, Del., have also installed cardless machines in select locations.
ATMs unveiled by Diebold and Corning in 2015 are a germaphobe’s dream. Their glass screens are embedded with ionic silver, which prevents the growth of bacteria, algae, mold, mildew and fungi, according to the two companies.
These machines are not part of the banking system, but they allow people with cash to convert it into digital currency and vice versa. The machines often carry high fees, but there are now hundreds of them across the United States.