ATMs have become an integral part of our lives, but not much is known about the author of the invention that has made life easier for billions of people.
Much ahead of time, the first ATM was invented in 1939 by American scientist of Armenian descent Luther George Simjian (January 28, 1905 – October 23, 1997). The only thing that distinguished Simjian’s prototype from modern devices was that his ATM did not have cash dispensing features – instead, it was designed for transactions other than withdrawal.
Having tested his invention, George Simjian offered it to the City Bank of New York. After 6 months of trial, the City Bank of New York would not acquire the machines from Simjian “due to a lack of demand.”
“It seems the only people using the machines were a small number of prostitutes and gamblers who didn’t want to deal with tellers face to face,” Simjian himself described the first steps of his ATM.
Luther George Simjian was born in 1905 in Ayntap, the Ottoman Empire. During the Armenian Genocide of 1915, he lost his entire family. After emigrating to the United States, he became the author of several inventions, including the ATM. Aside from that, the inventor has had more than 200 patents.
The second and more successful experience in introducing the ATM belongs to British inventor John Shepherd-Barron. In 1967, inspired by the principle of the operation of a chocolate vending machine, he developed a new ATM. In this ATM, transactions were initiated by a check which had to be obtained from the bank in advance.
George Simjian – Inventor of the first ATM in the world