Head Office, Johannesburg, South Africa

How the ATM machine has evolved over the years

atm-machines-atm-solutionsATMs are such a regular part of our everyday lives; we expect to see at least a few around every corner, several in shopping malls and sometimes even in workplaces. We take these machines for granted to such an extent that we hardly ever stop to think about the decades-long technological innovation that went into them. At Paycorp we honour history and all that it has allowed us to achieve. So we thought we’d clue you in on the history of the ATM, with a brief glance at all the breakthroughs that led to these machines and where we fit into the picture.


1960-1967: Technological run-ups to the ATM machine

There were a few forerunners to the ATMs we know and love today, most of which are unrecognizable in comparison, but which definitely contributed to the technology we have now. The first ATM machine predecessors were invented out of a need for after-hours banking. Workers were frustrated that they couldn’t pay bills or send money because banks were closed by the time they were knocked off work. The first to actually look (but not function) like a present-day ATM machine was the Bankograph (installed in 1961 in New York by City Bank) that didn’t dispense cash but accepted it – allowing the public to pay their bills and send money without having to interact with a cashier or teller.

The Bankograph wasn’t very popular and was off the market only six months after its release. But the effects of its introduction to the public would linger for years afterwards.

Patents were filed by various companies between 1962 and 1967 for machines that would be able to dispense money to bank account holders without them having to go inside the bank.


1967: The first cash dispenser is installed

On 27 June 1967, in Enfield Town, London, the first cash dispensing machine was installed by Barclays Bank. It was called the De La Rue Automatic Cash System or DACS (named for De La Rue, the printing firm its inventor worked for). Users would insert cheques into the machines and the machines would return the appropriate amount. The cheques were called tokens and they were treated with an isotope of carbon that the machine could read and interpret securely. The tokens were mailed back to users after the transactions were processed. Though not ideal by today’s security standards, this system was quite popular at the time and would eventually inspire the use of plastic bank cards in ATMs.


1969-1972: The first modern ATMs are deployed

In 1969, Chemical Bank deployed the first ATM machine to actually look and work like modern ATMs; the Docuteller, manufactured by the Docutel Corporation, premiered in New York on 2 September. Docutel were the first to hold the USA patent for the ATM and are therefore generally credited as its inventor. Following this, a string of machines were released by several other companies that marked the proliferation of ATMs into the market. These are widely considered the first true ATMs, because they were the first to dispense cash using bank-issued cards that worked in combination with security keys (which we now know as PIN numbers).


1979 – late1990s: Innovation takes over

After ATMs were installed by major banks all over the world, all that was left to do was make them better.

When the internet came into wide use, around the late 90s, the next step was to connect ATMs to the internet so that they could update automatically and quickly. For a while, Diebold and NCR were the only two manufacturers competing in the networked ATM space. But over time they were joined by many other manufacturers, like Triton, who haven’t stopped innovating and have recently released their Argo ATM range with features like anti-skimming technology, resistive and capacitive touch screens and well as e-receipts to help businesses reduce their carbon footprint.

From new functionality and the first ATMs that used wireless technology rather than a fixed line, to experimentations with dye stain technology to mitigate theft of cash, ATMs haven’t stopped evolving since they were invented. ATMs can literally now be “dropped” anywhere, they can operate off solar power and inform merchants of low cash volumes. The next frontier for ATM machine technology appears to be biometrics, as fingerprint-scanning ATMs hurtle closer and closer to being a market standard.


1999: ATM Solutions is born

Eighteen years after the first ATM went live in South Africa, ATM Solutions was founded. At the time, the problem was simple: ATMs could only be found outside bank branches, so were often too far away from where people lived, shopped and worked. This coincided with a rapid change in the retail landscape, and so ATM Solutions embarked on a 17-year journey of business and innovation focused on bringing people closer to their money. Previously, ATM access was often inconvenient, but Paycorp’s ATMs meant that a retailer of any size could have an ATM installed – inside or outside – bringing a new level of convenience to users.

Paycorp has installed over 5 000 ATMs in South Africa, Namibia, Zambia with a fledgling ATM business in Hungary. All our products are compliant to the highest and latest industry security standards. If you would like to become part of our ATM story by having one of our installations in or around your business, download our comprehensive ATM Solutions brochure here.