LONDON (AP) — John Shepherd-Barron, the Scotsman credited with inventing the world’s first automatic cash machine, has died after a short illness. He was 84.
Shepherd-Barron died peacefully in northern Scotland’s Raigmore Hospital on Saturday, funeral director Alasdair Rhind said Wednesday.
Shepherd-Barron once said that he came up with the idea of the cash dispensers after being locked out of his bank. He also said that his invention was inspired by chocolate vending machines.
“It struck me there must be a way I could get my own money, anywhere in the world or the U.K.,” he said in an interview with the BBC in 2007. “I hit upon the idea of a chocolate bar dispenser, but replacing chocolate with cash.”
The first automatic teller machine, now known as ATMs, was installed at a branch of Barclays Plc in a north London suburb on June 27, 1967.
Plastic bank cards had not been invented yet, so Shepherd-Barron’s machine used special checks that were chemically coded. Customers placed the checks in a drawer, and after entering a personal identification number, a second drawer would spring open with a 10 pound note.
Shepherd-Barron originally planned to make personal identification numbers six digits long, but cut the number to four after his wife Caroline complained that six was too many.
“Over the kitchen table, she said she could only remember four figures, so because of her, four figures became the world standard,” he told the BBC.
There are now more than 1.7 million ATMs across the globe, according to the ATM Industry Association.
Shepherd-Barron was awarded an Officers of the Order of the British Empire, or OBE, for his services to banking in 2004 — 40 years after his invention.
He was survived by his wife, three sons and six grandchildren, Rhind said in a death notice in The Scotsman newspaper.
Associated Press writer Ben McConville contributed to this report from Edinburgh.