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The ATM Machine of John Shepherd Barron

John Shepherd Barron


John Shepherd Barron

Reg Varney opens the first cash machine at Enfield - invented byJohn Shepherd Barron

Courtesy of Barclays
As is often the case with inventions, many inventors contribute to the history of an invention, as is the case with the ATM. Read each page of this article to learn about the many inventors behind the automatic teller machine or ATM.

John Shepherd Barron

According to BBC News, the world's first ATM was installed in a branch of Barclays in Enfield, North London. John Shepherd Barron, who worked for the printing firm De La Rue was the chief inventor.

In a Barclays press release, the bank stated that comedy actor Reg Varney, star of TV sitcom "On the Buses", became the first person in the country to use a cash machine at Barclays Enfield on June 27th 1967 (see photo). The ATMS were at that time called DACS for De La Rue Automatic Cash System. John Shepherd Barron was the managing director of De La Rue Instruments, the company which made the first ATMS.

John Shepherd Barron - Slightly Radioactive

At that time plastic ATM cards did not exist. John Shepherd Barron's ATM machine took checks that were impregnated with carbon 14, a slightly radioactive substance. The ATM machine would detect the carbon 14 mark and match it against a pin number.

John Shepherd Barron - PIN Numbers

The idea of a personal identification number or PIN was thought up by John Shepherd Barron and refined by his wife Caroline, who changed John’s six digit number to four as it was easier to remember.

Never Patented

John Shepherd Barron never patented his ATM invention instead he decided to try to keep his technology a trade secret. John Shepherd Barron stated that after consulting with Barclay's lawyers, "we were advised that applying for a patent would have involved disclosing the coding system, which in turn would have enabled criminals to work the code out."

Introduction to the United States

In 1967, a bankers' conference was held in Miami with 2,000 members in attendance. John Shepherd Barron had just installed the first ATMs in England, and was invited to talk at the conference. As a result, the first American order for a John Shepherd Barron ATM was placed. Six ATMs were installed at the First Pennsylvania Bank in Philadelphia.

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