Inventor of cash machine, John Shepherd-Barron, dies

Inventor of cash machine, John Shepherd-Barron, dies
# 19 May 2010 23:49 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. The man credited with being the inventor of the world’s first hole-in-the-wall cash dispenser has died in hospital following a short illness, APA reports quoting BBC.
John Shepherd-Barron, who was born in India, to Scottish parents, had been living in Portmahomack in Ross-shire.
He died at Inverness’s Raigmore Hospital on Saturday, at the age of 84.
Mr Shepherd-Barron came up with the idea for a cash machine while in the bath. The first ATM machine was installed at a bank in London in 1967.
The inventor’s idea for a cash machine was the first to be tested ahead of other patented devices.
Reg Varney, from the television series On the Buses, was the first to withdraw cash from the hole-in-the-wall at Barclays bank in Enfield.
In an interview with the BBC in 2007, Mr Shepherd-Barron said: "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."
Barclays moved quickly to commission a machine.
Over a pink gin, the bank’s then chief executive signed a hurried contract with Mr Shepherd-Barron, who at the time worked for a printing firm.
Plastic bank cards had not been invented, so Mr Shepherd-Barron’s machine used cheques that were impregnated with carbon 14, a mildly radioactive substance.
The machine detected it, then matched the cheque against a Pin (personal identification number).
Mr Shepherd-Barron denied there were any health concerns, telling the BBC in 2007: "I later worked out you would have to eat 136,000 such cheques for it to have any effect on you."
The machine paid out a maximum of £10 a time.
The first machines were vandalised and one that was installed in Zurich in Switzerland began to malfunction mysteriously.
It was later discovered that the wires from two intersecting tramlines nearby were sparking and interfering with the mechanism.
Killer whales
Mr Shepherd-Barron’s wife influenced his thoughts on the Pin, used to operate the machines.
The inventor could remember his six-figure Army number but he ran the idea by his wife Caroline.
Mr Shepherd-Barron said: "Over the kitchen table, she said she could only remember four figures, so because of her, four figures became the world standard."
After moving to Portmahomack, he invented a device that played the sound of killer whales to ward off seals from his fish farm.
However, he told the BBC that it had only succeed in attracting more of the "scoundrels".
James Goodfellow, of Paisley, Renfrewshire, was credited with being the inventor of the Pin and awarded an OBE in 2006.
He devised the mechanism of keying in a number code to cash machines in the 1960s.
Forty years after he applied for his patent, he was recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
Mr Goodfellow said he had "only been doing his job" when he dreamt up the concept.