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World’s First Cash Machine Launched 40 Years Ago – At Barclays Bank In Enfield


Forty years ago Reg Varney (of “UK TV’s On the Buses” fame) changed the face of banking by becoming the world’s first cash machine customer at Barclays Enfield branch in North London. On Wednesday 27th June 2007, the cash machine, ATM, or more colloquial “Hole in the Wall” celebrates its 40th birthday.

The original machines, described as mini-banks or cash dispensers, were designed to allow customers access to cash 24 hours a day, outside of the restrictive opening times of banks during the 1960s. The cash machine was created to dispense £10 against a special paper voucher which the customer inserted into the machine followed by a unique 4 digit personal code in much the same way as today. By the end of the 1960s there were 781 cash machines across the world (595 in the UK) by the end of 2006 there were 1.64 million worldwide (60,642 in the UK).*

The machine was invented by John Shepherd–Barron, a managing director of De La Rue, whilst relaxing in his bath one day. He presented the idea to Harold Darvill, Chief General Manager of Barclays, who committed Barclays to buying the machines immediately. The machines were developed jointly by De La Rue and Barclays and swiftly moved from conception to installation within 24 months in order to beat the competition.

At the time of the launch in 1967, Celtic had just made history by becoming the first British club to lift the European Cup and the sixties were in full swing with Procul Harum at Number 1 with “A Whiter Shade of Pale.” Colour TV is broadcast for the first time on BBC2 and Elvis has just married Priscilla Beaulieu. When Barclays took the decision to launch the Barclaycash machine that same year, cash was the most popular form of payment and the idea of withdrawing money through the wall was completely alien to the man on the street.

John Shepherd Barron, the inventor of the ATM, said: “I am delighted that the cash machine is still going strong. I remember back in 1965 that I would always take money out of my bank on a Saturday morning. However, one Saturday I was one minute late at my bank and it was closed. I had to ask my local garage to cash my cheque. That night I started thinking that there must be a better way to get cash when I wanted it. I thought of the chocolate vending machine where money was put in a lot and a bar dispatched – surely money could be dispensed in the same way. Within two years my idea had become reality and we opened the first cash machine at Barclays Enfield.”

John Warren, head of ATMs for Barclays Bank, said: “The hole in the wall or cash machine, more than any other banking innovation, has had a major impact on the way we all conduct our lives, not just our banking. Forty years ago cash was only available from 9-3 pm Monday to Friday and Saturdays from 9 -12.30 pm, and as cash was king queues outside branches on a Saturday morning to get weekend money were common. Now you can get money any time, anywhere.


Notes for editors:

*The ATM Celebrates its 40th Birthday, Source the Banking Automation Bulletin (June 2007)
UK Payment Statistics 2006, Source APACS.

- ATMs supply 63 per cent of all cash to individuals.
- The total of all withdrawals from ATMs reached £172 billion in 2005 – an average of £5,455 per second.
- For the second consecutive year the number of ATM withdrawals increased by a record amount, growing by 170 million to reach 2.7 billion, an increase of 6.7%

For further information please contact:
Andrew McDougall
Barclays Retail Banking PR Manager
1 Churchill Place
E14 5HP
Tel: 020 7116 6159


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