Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rant #259: ATM Guy Gone Too

Like yesterday's rant about the death of the Chipwich man, here is another death of a person who is little more than a footnote in history, but who changed many of our lives with his invention.

One day, John Shepherd-Barron was frustrated because he was locked out of his bank. Always fascinated by candy vending machines, he somehow melded the two together to come up with the automatic teller machine, better known as the ATM.

The first ATM was installed at a branch of Barclays Plc in a north London, England, suburb in June 27, 1967. Plastic bank cards had not been developed yet, so the machine used special checks that were chemically coded. One of these checks was placed in a drawer, and after entering a personal identification number--something he is not credited with developing--a second drawer would open with cash inside.

His invention was a revolutionary one, because it made banks 24-hour-a-day stops, allowing you to take out money--or now, even deposit cash--24/7. It also made tellers less necessary, and that's the downside of this thing.

But who hasn't used an ATM, even once in a blue moon? I rarely use it, but I do have an ATM card, and in an emergency, I have used it to access cash.

Of course, progress often leads to falling a step back too, and the emergence of ATMs--there are something less than 2 million of these things worldwide--has led to crime in and around these machines.

But, I guess that is something of "collateral damage" to progress. Anything that allows you to have access to your money in an easier way is better than being closed out when you need the cash.

With the Chipwich and ATM inventors passing, what other person who is a footnote to history will die this week? These things happen in threes, so who could go next?

Who knows--remember, these guys are simply footnotes in history, so until they pass, we won't know about the incredible things they have invented.

And I guess that is the way they want it, too.

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