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Back in the Day: the dawn of the cash machine

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Back in the Day: the dawn of the cash machine


June 27, 1967. A branch of Barclays Bank in Enfield, England unveils the world’s first ATM. It was invented by Scotsman John Shepherd-Barron, who came up with the idea of a cash distributor after failing to get to his bank on time to withdraw money. Like Archimedes’ ‘Eureka’ moment, Shepherd-Barron was in the bath when the inspiration came. Plastic bank cards had not yet been invented, so the first machines read cheques marked with a mildly radioactive substance, Carbon 14 and paid out a maximum of £10 (11.2 euros). The first person to use the machine was British comedy actor Reg Varney, the special guest at the unveiling of the machine. Today there are an estimated 1.8 million ATMs in use across the world.

Also on June 27: The United States orders its troops to the Korean War (1950); at Obninsk, USSR, a nuclear power plant generates electricity for the first time (1954); Djibouti gains independence from France (1977).

Born on June 27: Vera Wang (1949), Mary McAleese (1951), Isabelle Adjani (1955), Svetlana Kuznetsova (1985).

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