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The man who invented ATMs is dead

May 20, 2010 16:41 IST

India-born Scot John Shepherd-Barron, the man who invented the ATM, has died after a short illness, aged 84. He is survived by his wife, three sons and six grandchildren.

Barron, who had been living in Portmahomack in Ross-shire, died peacefully at Inverness's Raigmore Hospital in northern Scotland on Saturday, funeral director Alasdair Rhind told the media.

The businessman, who worked for the printing firm De La Rue Instruments at the time, came up with the concept of a self-service cash dispenser in 1965 while lying in a bath after getting to his bank too late to withdraw money.

"It struck me there must be a way I could get my own money, anywhere in the world or the UK. I hit upon the idea of a chocolate bar dispenser, but replacing chocolate with cash," Barron had said in an interview in 2007.

The first automated teller machine was installed at a bank in London in 1967. And, Reg Varney, one of the stars of popular TV show 'On the Buses', became the first person to withdraw cash.

The first ATM was operated by inserting a special cheque that was matched against a PIN number, and paved the way for machines using plastic cards. There are now nearly two million machines worldwide.

Barron, who was born in India to Scottish parents in 1925, married Caroline Murray, the daughter of Sir Kenneth, former chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland, and the couple moved to Easter Ross estate when he retired.

Photograph, Courtesy BBC 

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