Labor Day: ATM’s 50th birthday. A look back at how America learned to love cash machines



Nowadays, if you need a little cash, an ATM can be found on just about every street corner, not only at your local bank but tucked inside a drug store, hotel lobby or even a nail salon.

But that wasn’t always the case.

This Labor Day will mark the 50th anniversary of that ubiquitous money dispenser in the U.S. The automated teller machine – known primarily now as ATM – made its American debut at a Chemical Bank in Rockville Centre, Long Island, on Sept. 2, 1969. 

From the first use of a personal identification number (or PIN) to the ability to use your smartphone instead of a debit card to withdraw money, the ATM has become an indispensable tool for handling the family’s finances.

“You can pay your mortgage (or) your credit card. … You can use digital wallets like Apple Pay” at ATMs to withdraw cash, says Reggie Chambers, chief administrative officer for Chase Consumer Banking which has 16,250 ATMs – the second-largest number in the U.S. after Bank of America.

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Chase’s kiosks handle 70% of the tasks a human teller can do. “In the last few years, you’re seeing a pick up in functionality of the ATM,” he says, “and a lot of things you could do with a teller you can now do self-service.”

Here are some of the milestones in the evolution of the ATM:

1967 – The first “self-service cash dispenser” is open for business at a Barclay’s bank outside London. Its creator John Shepherd-Barron was inspired by a candy bar vending machine.

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1969 – The ATM comes to America. Chemical Bank debuts its Docutel cash dispensing machine in Rockville Centre, Long Island.

1970 – City National Bank & Trust Company unveils the “Cash ‘n’ Carry” machine which has a mini-computer that processes credit card transactions using the card’s magnetic strip, along with a customer’s personal identification number.

1982 – Thirty-four banks across the U.S. create the Plus System, an interbank ATM network that enables their customers to withdraw money from banks other than their own.

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2009 – Chase ATMs start accepting up to 30 checks or 50 bills in a single transaction without requiring a deposit slip or envelope.

2018 – Chase, the No.1 bank chain in the U.S., added Apple Pay to 15,500 ATMs, following Bank of America and Wells Fargo, enabling customers to tap their smartphones at ATMs to withdraw cash without reaching for a debit card. 

Today – There are over 3 million ATMs across the globe.

SOURCES: JPMorgan Chase Corporate History Collection AP, Retail Banking Research

Follow Charisse Jones on Twitter @charissejones



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