Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

50 Years Ago, Machines Started Dispensing Cash

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

50 Years Ago, Machines Started Dispensing Cash

Article excerpt

Despite talk about the coming cashless society, the automated teller machine - which turns 50 years old this week - doesn't appear to be headed for the scrap yard just yet.

"In the month of March, PNC dispensed more cash from ATMs than we have in the history of our ATM network," said Ken Justice, head of the Pittsburgh-based bank's ATM operations. "Cash demand is still as high as it has ever been."

By most accounts, the first ATM was opened by Barclays bank in suburban London on June 27, 1967.

The machines debuted in the U.S. when Chemical Bank installed an ATM, initially dubbed "Docuteller," at a branch on Long Island, N.Y., in 1969.

"On Sept. 2, our bank will open at 9:00 and never close again," a Chemical Bank advertisement crowed at the time.

In the early days, the machines merely dispensed cash. Chemical Bank's Docuteller wasn't connected to a network, so customers were trusted not to withdraw more than what they had in their accounts.

PNC Bank's predecessor company, Pittsburgh National Bank, launched its first ATM in 1974 in Upper St. Clair, Mr. Justice said. The innovation meant customers for the first time could get cash on weekends and in the evenings after banks had closed.

Today, the machines have become a ubiquitous convenience of modern life, with some 3 million worldwide, including about 425,000 in the U.S.

Since the old days, the functionality of ATMs has evolved to allow customers to deposit cash and checks, pay bills and buy postage stamps. Advanced-function machines also cash checks by dispensing $1 bills and depositing change into customer accounts.

"We're trying to allow customers to do as many transactions through the ATM as they could at the teller line," Mr. Justice said.

For the last few years, Pittsburgh-based Dollar Bank has been using interactive video ATMs at some of its branches that let customers see and speak with live tellers. …

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