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History of the Automatic Teller

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the pay-to-play dept.

The Almighty Buck 473

XopherMV writes "The line was long and slow, and he became increasingly irritated as his lunch hour dribbled away. All at once, he had a flash of inspiration. 'Golly, all the teller does is cash checks, take deposits, answer questions like "What's my balance?" and transfer money between accounts,' recalls Wetzel, now 75 and still living in Dallas with his wife. 'Wow, I think we could build a machine that could do that!' And with a $4 million go-ahead from Docutel's parent company, that's exactly what he and his engineers did. Read more about the story of the ATM."

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473 comments

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History of the first post? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9778691)

What is the history of the first post?

OMG ! (0, Offtopic)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778694)

Where's the SCO 699$ fee Troll when you don't need him ?

Can I comment without reading the article? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9778704)

I like ATMs.
When they're up they do what they're supposed to do.
I hate fees. But I deal with them anyway.
The highest fee I've seen was at a strip club. $20.

Re:Can I comment without reading the article? (1)

Apiakun (589521) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778728)

That wasn't the old Gold Club, was it?

Re:Can I comment without reading the article? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9778764)

Stop for a minute and think about how many strip clubs are or were called "the Gold Club."

Re:Can I comment without reading the article? (1)

Apiakun (589521) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778852)

I was referring to the most infamous [cnn.com] of them all. The infamous el goldclubo. Where there was a plethora of asses.

FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9778708)

linux is for gaylords

long live freebsd!!!

Thats "Mr." Gaylord to you (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9778949)

fucker!!

cold trip (5, Funny)

jeffy124 (453342) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778709)

There is even one, for some reason, at the McMurdo Station on Antarctica.

I would hate to be the armored truck driver responsible for keeping that one filled.

Re:cold trip (4, Interesting)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778908)

My favorite one is at the town bank in Oberwesel, Germany. If you want to use it after hours, you stick your card through a slot in a medieval stone wall and a great iron gate slides open with a gentle hum.

rj

Re:cold trip (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9778935)

I more so wonder what currency is coughs up...

Pierre: Jacques! Jacques!
Jacques: Oui?
Pierre: The ATM! It's coughing up US dollars!
Jacques: Merde! Those bloody Americans! Now how are we going to afford that 120 liter keg of Molson, eh?

- Seth

Re:cold trip (1)

punkin (461807) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778940)

Don't you mean armored dogsled driver?

Text here (-1, Redundant)

numb (241932) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778717)

The Money Machines
The humble ATM revolutionized the way we deal with money and turned global commerce into a 24/7 affair. You can thank a Texan named Don Wetzel--and the blizzard of 1978.

Chemical Bank's ad campaign announced the start of the revolution in 1969: "On Sept. 2, our bank will open at 9:00 and never close again!" On that day at the Rockville Centre branch at 10 North Village Avenue on Long Island, customers who possessed plastic cards with magnetic stripes no longer had to wait in line for a teller to cash their checks. They could access their money 24 hours a day, seven days a week, through a machine built into a wall on the street.

Three hundred seventy-one thousand automated teller machines later, it's fair to say the revolution has been won. These days you can find ATMs not only in malls and airports but also in McDonald's and tiny bodegas. There's one on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. There are some above the Arctic Circle. If Queen Elizabeth needs some pocket change to tip the royal ushers, there's an ATM at Buckingham Palace. There is even one, for some reason, at the McMurdo Station on Antarctica. Apparently, says Robert Mahoney, chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and former CEO of Diebold, one of the largest American firms that make the machines, "even the penguins use ATMs." In short, there's one ATM for every 284 American households.

Cheapskates beware: You no longer have an excuse for not having cash in your pocket. For spendthrifts, likewise, ATMs have become a ubiquitous temptation--and one we give in to all the time, if you believe the numbers. Nearly 11 billion transactions are conducted via ATM each year, dispensing some $670 billion. That's up from $165 billion in 1985, according to Tremont Capital Group.

For all the talk about soaring credit card debt, clearly we love the feel of cold hard cash in our hands as much as plastic. So much so that we're willing to pay for those quickie stops at the ATM with often usurious fees--usually about $1.50 each time we grudgingly press the "I Accept" button on a cash machine outside our bank's network. Such surcharges and other fees add up to a $4-billion-a-year business, according to Dove Consulting, which has kept tabs on the industry for the past 20 years. That's a nice chunk of change to pay for the privilege of accessing our own money.

What you might find truly surprising, however, is that as a rule, large banks actually lose money on these moneymakers--at a rate of about $250 a month per machine. They are, ironically, loss leaders, since banks don't generally charge their own customers if they use the banks' machines. At Bank of America, for example, whose collection of some 16,000 machines is the largest among the nation's financial institutions, 85% of all ATM transactions are conducted by BofA's customers--about half of whom keep their business with the bank, they say, for just that reason. Wells Fargo has come to much the same conclusion. "If you're looking at it from a pure accounting perspective, it looks like you're losing money," says Jonathan Velline, who heads up ATM banking for the San Francisco-based bank. "But the truth is, if I didn't have ATMs, I wouldn't have customers."

That's essentially what a Visa survey last fall concluded when it showed that 92% of respondents considered convenient ATM access a critical factor in choosing a bank. Or take the Harris Interactive survey, which found that a healthy majority of respondents considered ATM access more essential than e-mail access. U.S. Bancorp is so convinced of the "come hither" lure of the cash machine that it drives its mobile ATMs in parades and dresses up employees as cash dispensers to mingle at local fairs.

It is easy, in the modern era of easy money, to forget just how strange it was three-plus decades ago for Americans to interact this way with machines. People were used to asking for their hard-earned bucks from a human being behind a bank window. They wanted to see, with their very own eyes, each bill counted out by the teller. They required a receipt, hand-stamped by an employee of the bank, indicating that their paycheck had indeed been deposited. When the ATM arrived, it came along like an insult--not just as progress, but as preemption, a ploy to get customers to stop using expensive human tellers. (Some, of course, still hate the machines, but we'll leave that for another story.)

After the technology had earned the trust of once highly skeptical customers, an amazing transformation began to take place: Face-to-face business became face-to-interface, and it changed the way people consumed. Now that they had access to their cash whenever and wherever they wanted, they bought on impulse instead of planning every purchase ahead of time. The ATM also placed consumers firmly on the path of demanding ever more convenience and self-service (and industry, in turn, of pushing more automated service). Perhaps most important, it introduced ordinary consumers to technology in a direct manner for the first time, presaging PCs, cellular phones, and other conveniences we now can't live without.

The success of the ATM inspired similar innovations (some more frustrating than others) in a number of nonfinancial industries as well. Full-service gas stations have all but given way to credit card-primed gas pumps. Delta Air Lines has 846 do-it-yourself check-in terminals in 83 U.S. cities. Kroger has self-check-out lanes in more than 1,400 supermarkets. And you can find similar aisles in 850 Home Depot stores. Coming soon to Hiltons near you: 45 hotels that allow you to check in without seeing a clerk. Even McDonald's is testing to see if consumers like ordering Big Macs and fries on a touchscreen. One might even make the case that the ATM made Internet commerce possible: Certainly Amazon.com could not exist without consumers feeling comfortable shopping on a computer. Look at almost any company on the FORTUNE 500--in fact, pick up the phone and call one just to see who answers--and it is clear how important it is to business that customers are willing to automate in one form or another. "The ATM is the mother of this," says Bob Tramontano, who heads up self-service engineering in the financial-solutions division of NCR, one of the largest ATM manufacturers. "People looked at the lines in the bank and said, 'We'll use the machines outside.'"

While the ATM deserves an enormous amount of credit--or blame--for the way we live today, it's hard to know who to bestow it upon. ATM circles (yes, there are circles, apparently) are rife with division about who exactly the father of this invention is. (The joke is: Whoever it is ought to be put on the $20 bill.) One saga traces the ATM's roots back to a fellow named Luther Simjian, who concocted a machine that allowed customers to deposit checks and cash. He persuaded New York's First National City Bank (now Citibank) to give it a try back in the early 1960s, but customers had little use for it. "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," he later wrote.

Another tale gives credit to John Shepherd-Barron. As the story goes, on June 27, 1967, a branch of Barclays Bank in Enfield, near London, drew crowds to the unveiling of Shepherd-Barron's marvelous cash-dispensing machine. Ten-pound vouchers purchased from a teller in the bank could be redeemed at an electronic box outside. A year later several British banks installed similar devices using prepurchased cards instead of vouchers. One drawback: The machines kept the card after each use. After some delay, the bank sent it back to the customer.

Then, at noon one day in 1968, yet another chapter in the story opened. That's when a Dallas man by the name of Don Wetzel, head of product planning for an automated baggage-handling company called Docutel (and erstwhile minor leaguer for the then-New York Giants), was standing in line at the bank to cash a check. The line was long and slow, and he became increasingly irritated as his lunch hour dribbled away. All at once, he had a flash of inspiration. "Golly, all the teller does is cash checks, take deposits, answer questions like 'What's my balance?' and transfer money between accounts," recalls Wetzel, now 75 and still living in Dallas with his wife, Eleanor, who, tellingly, has never used an ATM. "Wow, I think we could build a machine that could do that!"

And with a $4 million go-ahead from Docutel's parent company, that's exactly what he and his engineers did. The machine itself was relatively simple, Wetzel says, put together from existing technologies that they modified for their purposes. The big difference, huge really, was that a customer could activate the machine with a card, which was equipped with a magnetic stripe--and then reuse it after the transaction was finished! The earliest machines, though, were offline, so banks issued cards by invitation only to their most reliable customers. In the early '70s, Docutel sold its first true ATM--that is, an ATM hooked into the bank's host computer. The machines were not only dispensing cash but also accepting deposits and transferring balances. About the same time, so the story goes, Diebold and Fujitsu were developing ATMs, but Docutel was the first to patent them. In 1995 the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History recognized Docutel and Wetzel as the inventors of the ATM. Wetzel, however, did not hit pay dirt on his now omnipresent invention. His name was on the patent (along with two others), but Docutel owned it. "I never got any royalties," he says. "But I was treated very well by my company."

As with any new technology, the early days of ATMs were fraught with obstacles. The first hurdle was the bankers: Selling them on a machine that cost two to three times what a teller was paid for a year, plus convincing them that customers would use it, wasn't easy. (In the decade before ATMs, bankers were just beginning to number their customers' accounts instead of listing them alphabetically by name.)

By the mid-'70s, though, these electronic oddities were gaining acceptance. Citibank, the second-largest bank at the time and arguably the most technologically advanced (it built its own ATMs from scratch), offered customers a card with what it called the "magic middle." Instead of the magnetic stripe used by every other bank, Citi embedded a chip in its cards that only its machines could read. According to the account in Wriston: Walter Wriston, Citibank, and the Rise and Fall of American Financial Supremacy, then-chairman Wriston bet the huge sum of $100 million to fund consumer-banking head John Reed's vision of a massive ATM deployment in New York City. The bill eventually came to about $160 million--at the time, one of the largest capital expenditures in the company's history. In 1977, Citibank announced that it would blanket New York with ATMs.

"We got a lot of flak," says Wriston today, a recipient last month of the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, for his banking innovations. "A lot of ads were run saying 'Our tellers are smiling young ladies who remember your name. Why go to a soulless machine?' And the answer to that was at 7:30 at night when you're going to go to the movies and you don't have any money, you like the soulless machine."

Wriston and Reed's gamble, though, might not have succeeded without help from the heavens. In January 1978, New York City was blanketed with something else: 17 inches of snow. Within days, a commercial ran showing New Yorkers plodding through the wintery mess to Citibank ATMs. And a new catch-phrase was launched: "The Citi Never Sleeps." During the storm, use of the machines increased 20%. By 1981, Citi's market share of New York deposits had doubled.

Citi's rivals had to catch up. In 1985, Chemical Bank, Manufacturers Hanover, and six others founded a network called New York Cash Exchange (NYCE) to link the 800 ATMs they had among them. Understand that when ATMs first started showing their electronic faces, you could use only the ones associated with your bank. During this time, banks in the same neck of the woods were putting their heads together and thinking "Gee, wouldn't it be convenient to use a lot of ATMs that we don't own," says David Gosnell, an editor at ATM & Debit News. To compensate one another for noncustomers using machines, banks would pay interchange fees for each transaction. The New York area was one of the last holdouts; by this time a few hundred such regional networks existed around the country. Still the eight-way marriage was a breakthrough. With networks gaining power, Citi yielded to the industry standard in 1985; a magnetic stripe, in addition to the magic middle, appeared on the Citicard. "The world went the other way," says Wriston.

Throughout the '80s and '90s, the ATM industry continued its transformation. April 1996 brought a watershed moment. The two national networks, Visa Plus and MasterCard Cirrus, dropped their longstanding ban on customer surcharges. The gold rush was on. Suddenly ATMs were no longer a mere convenience offered by banks. It could be a real business with actual revenue. Independent operators stampeded into the arena, throwing ATMs into every mom-and-pop store coast-to-coast. Over the next four years the number of ATMs around the country nearly doubled. Today almost half of the nation's cash machines are independently operated.

With the merging of regional networks, ATM cards now offer nearly universal access. You can get instant euros in Grenoble with the same card you use to get greenbacks in Greenwich. And innovations are ever in the offing. Many ATMs sell stamps or concert tickets. Diebold and NCR have technology in the works that will allow ATM transactions to be initiated via mobile phone or PDA. The only thing that stands in the ATM cards' way, it seems, is another piece of plastic. Nowadays, both cash and credit have met a rival in the debit card, which takes the money right from your account without letting you feel the hunter-gatherer power of a fat wad of cash.

The ATM clearly fell short of expectations in one area, though. It never reduced the number of tellers or filled the demand for bank branches--something the machine's pioneers had promised. According to the FDIC's count, there are close to 75,000 branches today, up from under 58,000 in 1985. Tellers number 539,000, vs. the 484,000 in 1985--though many of them now also function as retailers, cross-selling IRAs and mortgages to customers who come in with a big deposit. And that is something human beings still do better than any machine. For now.

Re:Text here (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9778729)

thanks, but I think Fortune can handle the slashdot effect without difficulty.

Re:Text here (2, Interesting)

lukewarmfusion (726141) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778787)

...we're willing to pay for those quickie stops at the ATM with often usurious fees--usually about $1.50 each time..."

Those fees drive me nuts. When I was in college, using the ATM would add $2.50 surcharge. When I studied abroad in Japan, there was a single ATM that I could use in all of Nagoya. The downtown Citibank had an ATM that would only charge me $1.00 for every transaction. That's right - it cost me $2.50 to use a machine just a mile from my bank, but only $1.00 to use a machine on the other side of the frickin' world.

coughcoughscamcoughcough

Now I use a credit union and only use credit union ATMs. No fees.

Re:Text here (1)

jbb999 (758019) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778912)

That's one good thing about the UK's system. You can use any machine belonging to any bank without paying any fees at all. There are a few machines in local shops and petrol stations and so on that charge money for cash but I can't imagine anyone actually uses them :(

Re:Text here (3, Informative)

Sukh (620783) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778948)

In the UK, ATMs that are part of the Link network are generally free to all participating banks. So, even though I'm a HSBC user, I can use HSBC, Natwest, Lloyds TSB, Halifax etc. ATMs for free. The only time you ever really need to pay to use ATMs is for the private ones in clubs and bars and for building societies.

Loss Leader? (2, Insightful)

fishwallop (792972) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778887)

So the bank "loses" $250/month on its own ATM. An entry-level teller making $10/hour will cost the bank over $1600/month in salary alone. If the bank didn't have an ATM in the doorway, the bank would need more tellers to handle the same volume of transactions. The bank should pay me for my ATM transactions for lowering their cost structure. (Instead they cut the number of free teller-assisted transactions to encourage you to go the machine.)

Is that why my bank is laying off thousands? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9778720)

I'd actually prefer it if these banks hired more tellers (and stopped them going on lunch at the same time as I do)...

It is just stupid (3, Insightful)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778737)

that I can get a transaction receipt from a Diebold ATM, but not from a Diebolt voting machine.

Re:It is just stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9778906)

Kinda makes you wonder about the underlying motives, doesn't it?

My first thought was, they don't want a fair election system, they want a (remote)controllable one.

My second thought was, Somebody who doesn't know or care about the subject just got a nice fat government contract.

site still up (1, Funny)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778743)

So now we know how to avoid being slashdotted.

Just submit a story with an incredibly tedious subject and containing almost no technical information at all.

Pretty much offttopic but... (5, Funny)

Nplugd (662449) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778745)

Remembers me of Friends when it was still funny:
Monica: (to everyone) It's Chandler! (on phone) Are you OK?

Chandler: Yeah, I'm fine. (trying to cover up what he is saying) I'm trppd in an ATM vstbl wth Jll Gdcr.

Monica: What?

Chandler: I'm trppd... in an ATM vstbl... wth Jll Gdcr!

Monica: I have no idea what you just said.

Chandler: (angry) Put Joey on the phone.

Joey: What's up man?

Chandler: I'm trppd... in an ATM vstbl... wth JLL GDCR.

Joey: (to everyone) Oh my God! He's trapped in an ATM vestibule with Jill Goodacre! (on phone) Chandler, listen. (says something intentionally garbled)

Chandler: Yeah, like that thought never entered my mind.

Re:Pretty much offttopic but... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9778756)

That is such a retarded show. Is it dead yet?

Re:Pretty much offttopic but... (0, Offtopic)

Arial Sharon, 10pt. (784486) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778801)

I read a newspaper article recently that said that the weird thing about Americans is that they're either ridiculously straight-laced, or completely nuts. John seemed to hold up this theory. He was the friend of a friend and when I met him in a bar he was hammered. He claimed not to have been sober since the early Nineties. He had thinning hair, and a permanent mischievous grin.

I ignored him for most of the evening. I was trying to drunkenly seduce one of his female friends, and getting nowhere. But he caught my attention when I heard him yell, "I AM A PROFESSIONAL ROCK THROWER." I stared at him as he finished the story, and asked him to tell it again. It may or may not have been true. But it made me laugh.

John had some friends who were even crazier than him. When they were in college, they decided to go on a road trip and get loaded and laid in every Southern state. To a large extent, they succeeded.

After a few weeks of travelling, they found themselves, drunk and stoned, in a tiny redneck bar somewhere in the hills of some Bible Belt state.

It's a real country bar. As they walk through the door, all conversation stops, and one-hundred bearded, buck-toothed faces turn to stare at them. John walked towards the bar, thinking, "5000 people in this town, and only five different surnames." They ordered a couple of beers, and some chasers, and something to chase the chasers. The rest of the clientele returned to their conversations, but they could occasionally feel a suspicious eye on the back of their neck.

A few hours later, John and his friends were tanked and feeling a lot less cautious. They started whispering redneck jokes under their breaths and laughing raucously. They had consumed a lot of whiskey and snuck back out to the car for some smokes. They were so wasted that they failed to notice that the regulars had decided that they outstayed their welcome.

When it all began, John was sitting at the table. Bob, one of the guys, had eventually admitted that it was his round. He had staggered up to the bar and seemed to have been gone for ages. They didn't even notice, until a booming Southern voice, bloody with rage, cut through the air.

"I'M GONNA FUCKING KILL YOU, MOTHERFUCKER."

The guys slowly manoeuvred themselves around so they could see what was going on, just in time to see this enormous redneck with arms like oak trees. He was about to take a swing at Bob.

Bob, though drunk and stoned, was fast enough to sidestep the punch. While moving, he spun around on his heels, and ran at the door.

John and his friends, being drunk and stoned, thought this was the funniest damn thing they had seen in their entire lives.

They ran out after Bob and the irate redneck. Bob, who was the most unathletic person they knew, was breaking all sprinting records while evading the redneck. He had almost made it to the car when suddenly he stopped, dropped to the ground and came back up with a rock in his hand. The redneck slowed down. Bob stared him dead in the eye and shouted:

"I am a professional rock thrower. Don't make me throw this rock at you."

The redneck swore, and resumed running.

Bob took a classic pitcher's stance, wound up, and hurled the rock straight at the redneck. It hit him square in the nuts. All the observers winced.

Bob grabbed another rock and stood still, panting heavily. The redneck, gasping, slowly picked himself up, muttering obscenities under his breath and began walking away. John and his friends started walking towards their car. The redneck walked over to his pickup and opened the door. Bob sensing danger, shouted again.

"I am a professional rock thrower. Stop right there, or I'll throw another rock."

The redneck dived into the pickup. Bob hurled the rock, neatly shattering the windscreen. A southern voice could be heard yelling "motherfucker!" from inside the truck.

The redneck re-emerged from the tuck, just as Bob was about to pick up another rock. John stopped laughing. The redneck was drawing a long shotgun from the pack of his car and was getting ready to turn to Bob.

Bob didn't even shout his warning this time. He hurled the rock at a venomous pace. It smacked the redneck right between the eyes, who stopped for a moment, dropped the gun, and keeled over cartoon style.

At that exact moment, 100 rednecks came storming out of the bar, in a great tidal wave of denim and check shirts. The guys ran for their car. John dived into the driver's seat. It started first time. He punched it to the floor, and flew out of there faster than one of Bob's rocks.

They drove across two states before they felt safe enough to pull over. Eventually they did, and sat there in thankful silence. After a while they turned to Bob. "How the hell did you manage to hit him with that rock? Are you a professional baseball player or something?"

Bob thought about it. "No actually, I never really tried before today. I never made the Little League team. My pitching sucked."

Re:Pretty much offttopic but... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9778823)

huh?

Even further off the main topic (0)

SpooForBrains (771537) | more than 10 years ago | (#9779013)

Rachel, doing a crossword: "Heating device?" Phoebe: "Radiator" Rachel: "Five letters" Phoebe: "Rdetr"

That invention has saved so many people... (2, Funny)

millahtime (710421) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778748)

Think of all the people that invention has helped out in a bind...

Politicians when they need money for their hookers, no more personal checks.

When all those dirty old men run out of money at the strip club they can hit the atm

And, me when I need bar money late at night (I won't take a credit card cause then there goes the bank)

Re:That invention has saved so many people... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9778880)

Politicians when they need money for their hookers, no more personal checks.

yup I hear you.

When all those dirty old men run out of money at the strip club they can hit the atm.

You mean the politicians?!

And, me when I need bar money late at night.

Oh you mean the politicians, which is you. glad we cleared that up.

Re:That invention has saved so many people... (1)

angrist (787928) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778892)

Haha, how true is that...

For my roomies birthday this year (turned 19) a bunch of us took him to a strip club. He hadn't gotten any action for awhile so we figured it would cheer him up.

So after he's blown about $100 he comes up to the rest of us and says "hey, i'm out of money, is there an ATM here?" thats when we decided it was time to leave.

Moral - If you're a poor horny collage student going to a strip club, leave you're plastic at home.

Re:That invention has saved so many people... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9779010)

"Leave you are plastic at home"

I agree!

These are the secret heroes of the world (4, Insightful)

HarveyBirdman (627248) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778749)

I was sitting waiting for a haircut a few weeks back, and spied a copy of Biography (like the show) magazine. I picked it up and read listing of contents. They had names and occupations for each biography.

Actor. Actor. Actor. Actor. Actor. Actor. Actor. Jock. Actor. Actor. Jock. Actor. Actor. Jock.

I've heard they have a busniessman once in a while, but only the billionaire figurehead type.

Think they'd ever do a biography of the guy who invented one of best convenience devices ever created? No. I guess that's boring compared to Dubiously-Talented-Generic-Actress-Bint fretting over how hard it is to find a good sitter for her children's cat as they go on vacation to the South of France.

And people wonder why I'm a misanthrope.

Re:These are the secret heroes of the world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9778815)

I had a subsitute teacher in high school who insisted he invented the ATM. He also insisted he played for the St. Louis Cardinals, but was injured the day they took the photos for the baseball cards. Now he sells suits at a local department store.

How's that for a biography ?

Re:These are the secret heroes of the world (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9778926)

Sounds more interesting than Biography magazine.

Re:These are the secret heroes of the world (1)

VelocityBoy09 (575017) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778914)

Think they'd ever do a biography of the guy who invented one of best convenience devices ever created? No. I guess that's boring ...

Sure it's boring. Just because he invented something useful doesn't mean he led an interesting life. A guy like that probably wouldn't make an good subject for a biography.

A great, but ultimately dated, revolution (4, Interesting)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778752)

ATM's are certainly great for when you need quick access to cash, particularly when you're travelling abroad, but an even better development has been the debit card. I find that I hardly ever carry cash anymore, as the debit card is not only convenient (no change jingling in your pocket), but also makes tracking much easier if you use something like Quicken or Money.

Re:A great, but ultimately dated, revolution (1)

acceleriter (231439) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778796)

The idea of having my checking account cleaned out because a clerk hit a couple of extra zeroes on the authorization machine has always scared me away from use of debit cards at point of sale. I prefer to use a credit card and just pay for it at the end of the month.

Re:A great, but ultimately dated, revolution (2, Informative)

Pope (17780) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778865)

That's ridiculous. When you go to type in your PIN it says the amount owing right there. If there's an error, it can be corrected before the transaction goes anywhere near you money.

Me, I miss the old IBM ATMs with the glowing red thin slit readout and small card balance receipts, they fit so perfectly in the same space that a bank card fits. None of this bollocks on screen pretty graphics, just a bank of different coloured buttons (one for withdrawal actions, one for deposits) and a sensible layout.

Granted, the new video screen ones are much more flexible when it comes to multiple languages, but those IBM ones were pretty cool.

Re:A great, but ultimately dated, revolution (1)

acceleriter (231439) | more than 10 years ago | (#9779025)

No, it's not ridiculous. Not all places require PIN entry--some process them on the same authorization network as credit cards, and don't have PIN terminals. That, and as the other poster pointed out, debit cards don't have the built in legal protections (e.g. Fair Credit Billing Act) that credit cards do.

Re:A great, but ultimately dated, revolution (2, Interesting)

swb (14022) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778974)

I got mailed a debit card back when they first became available from my bank. Trouble is, the card was mailed unsolicited and the Visa portion of it was pre-activated. All I had to do according to the letter that accompanied it was go out and start spending.

I was outraged, naturally, and cut the card into small bits and told the bank I would not accept a debit card. I ranted on misc.consumers about it and ultimately got quoted in a story about debit cards in US News. (My 0:00.15 of fame).

The thing I dislike about debit cards is that if you were a victim of fraud, you're out cash money until the bank refunds you. Most banks have upped their fraud agreements to match those of credit cards, but there's often little replacement for cash when you need it *now*.

What I don't get, though, is if you're a huge fan of debit cards, why wouldn't you just use a credit card? Let the *bank* take the credit risk, you earn interest on your own cash and they eat the interest for 30 days, plus you can pick up frequent flier miles or some other trivial bennie at the same time.

Re:A great, but ultimately dated, revolution (1)

colinleroy (592025) | more than 10 years ago | (#9779028)

[Debit cards]... also makes tracking much easier if you use something like Quicken or Money.

It also makes Them track you much easier.
/tinfoil

other denoms (3, Interesting)

Skadet (528657) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778753)

It's a fantastic invention, indeed...

But it'll be much, much cooler when I can snag $10 or $15 or $75 out of the machine. Why do we get only 20s?

Efficiency. (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778809)

It takes a machine of far less complexity to issue on $20.00 increments. It also reduces the chances for human error, like loading tens in the twenties slot. That of course could be overcome with a machine capable of reading the bills it dispenses, but your back to that "complexity" thing.

no way (1)

Skadet (528657) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778872)

I don't believe that. One mechanism drops the bills, another hands them out to you (hence the fact that you can't reach in the slot and grab some out of the stack). So add another hopper that has 5s, not a huge deal. Then use the same "handout mechanism".

It can be done, have you never seen a bill-changing machine?

Re:no way (1)

Diomedes01 (173241) | more than 10 years ago | (#9779009)

We have ATMs where I work, and they dispense any denomination of money, down to $1 bills. I suspect it's so we monkeys who live out of vending machines don't die of starvation on the weekends, when the cafeteria is closed.

Re:Efficiency. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9778966)

I don't believe that either, UK ATMs hold £5, £10, £20 and sometimes £50 notes, always have done.

Re:Efficiency. (1)

p2sam (139950) | more than 10 years ago | (#9779037)

yeah well.. 5 pounds is like a gazillion american dollar, ok?

Re:Efficiency. (1)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778985)

How on earth do you get a $10 bill and a $20 bill mixed up? Bank notes of different denominations are different physical sizes, so people with poor eyesight can check their change.

Re:Efficiency. (1)

Skadet (528657) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778999)

well, here in the states they aren't :)

Re:other denoms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9778812)

Economics.

The right-of-way cost, electricity, and space requirements make having more than one money tube from the bank to the ATM prohibitive. While they could choose a smaller denomination for the tube, $20 bills seem to be the most convenient because they're the largest bill many merchants will take.

Re:other denoms (1)

IncarnadineConor (457458) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778842)

About half the machines around here dispense 10s as well, and I seem to recall once seeing one that did fives.

Re:other denoms (1)

Elektrance (310019) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778844)

Seems rather obvious to me. If every machine stocked 5,10, and 20 dollar denominations, then there is more types to run out of, and the machine can hold less cash. This means that they need to refill the machines more often.

That said, I have been to machines that give out all denominations. However, they are usually at the bank, not at my local convience store.

On the other extreme, It seems most ATM's I have been to in Amsterdam (I am currently working there) only offer 50 euro denominations. And you thought only 20's were a pain.

Re:other denoms (2, Informative)

solive1 (799249) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778862)

Many of the ATMs I go to now let you get money in $10 increments. Perhaps it's a security reason that they don't have smaller denominatons, or maybe they'd just need a bigger machine (that wouldn't fit in a standard ATM "hole in the wall" for lack of a better term). Actually, they might be available, but banks don't want to switch out all those expensive machines when they're working just fine.

In a perfect world, the ATM would give you any amount of cash you asked for (provided it was in your account), and it would also ask you in what monetary denominations you would like your cash in. Would you like your $25 in all $5s, or would you like two $10s and a $5, or a $20 and a $5?

Re:other denoms (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778878)

I would guess that 20s are a nice intermediate denomination. It probably keeps the machines mechanically simpler. If you try to get too cute, extra mechanical complexity can bite the maintainer and owners in terms of cost and time wasted, and cause more problems than the extra little convenienve solves.

I'd say, just take the extra money. For me, the minimum flat fee bites, so it's not worth taking out less than $20 anyway, and for an amount like $75, you may just as well take the extra, you'll find a use for the extra $5 soon enough, or something comes up that you didn't expect.

I avoid using those things because of the fees. I can keep my money in a bigger bank so I am more likely to avoid the fees, but the disadvantage of much poorer customer service outweighs the reduction of ATM fees.

Re:other denoms (2, Funny)

ximenes (10) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778979)

The real problem with "yuppie food stamps" ($20 bills) is that they're worthless in a lot of contexts. Need quarters to do laundry? It may be hard to find a changer that takes things other than 1's, 5's, and 10's. Even if it does take 20's, some machines will accept the bill if it has less than $20 in change inside it and then give you $5 or $10 worth.

The moral of the story is, I hate 20's.

Re:other denoms (1)

slash.dt (701002) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778879)

So that they can load more money in the machine and have longer intervals between refilling.

Re:other denoms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9778931)

Solutions:

Need $10 -- Get $20, and keep the extra $10 in reserve for the next time you need $10.

Need $15 -- Get $20, and keep the extra $5 in reserve.

Need $75 -- Get $80, and keep the extra $5 in reserve.

Hope this helps!

Re:other denoms (1)

Atticka (175794) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778952)

My bank (TD Canada) has machines that offer 10's 20's and 50's (Their usually located in newer branches).

Re:other denoms (1)

mog007 (677810) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778975)

There's an ATM right around the corner from my apartment that allows withdrawls in 10 dollar increments. I've seen quite a few in the area, as a matter of fact. Nothing as precise to offer 5 or 1 increments yet, and no coinage either.

Re:other denoms (1)

slutdot (207042) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778980)

I've seen some ATMs on or near college campuses that give out denoms in $5 increments. Granted they take $2.50 in fees but they'll give you want you want.

Re:other denoms (1)

rtaylor (70602) | more than 10 years ago | (#9779034)

Lots of them used to do $5's and $10's, but they'd constantly run out of $20's. Ever wonder what $100 in $5's is like? A pain in the ass is what it is!

Since stores around here have started taking $50's and $100's again, some of the machines have started spitting those denominations out.

Face-to-Interface? (1, Funny)

Nuclear Elephant (700938) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778791)

After the technology had earned the trust of once highly skeptical customers, an amazing transformation began to take place: Face-to-face business became face-to-interface, and it changed the way people consumed.

Ironically, the same thing happened with sex around the same time.

Inshore Outsourcing! (1)

CdBee (742846) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778792)

How ironic, that a site that complains about (mainly American) tech workers losing their jobs to Indians gives favourable coverage to an inventor who made thousands of bank workers lose their jobs to a machine....

Re:Inshore Outsourcing! (1)

Skadet (528657) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778833)

How ironic, that a site that complains about (mainly American) tech workers losing their jobs to Indians gives favourable coverage to an inventor who made thousands of bank workers lose their jobs to a machine....

A good try, but you didn't RTFA, did you:

(from page 3)
The ATM clearly fell short of expectations in one area, though. It never reduced the number of tellers or filled the demand for bank branches--something the machine's pioneers had promised. According to the FDIC's count, there are close to 75,000 branches today, up from under 58,000 in 1985. Tellers number 539,000, vs. the 484,000 in 1985

Re:Inshore Outsourcing! (1)

CdBee (742846) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778874)

If you had done the maths you'll find that 75,000 / 58,000 x 484,000 = 626,000 (rounded up)

Ergo there are now fewer teller staff per branch. That means people have lost their jobs to the ATM !!!

Re:Inshore Outsourcing! (1)

Skadet (528657) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778905)

Whoa there, professor. You're the one who made the comparison to outsourcing. I'm just saying your analogy is unsound. Tellers didn't lose their jobs, did they? All your math can prove is that new tellers were just hired at a slower rate, which may be important, sure. It's just not what you intended to prove.

Read the Farking Article You Mouth-Breathing Clod! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9778870)

The ATM clearly fell short of expectations in one area, though. It never reduced the number of tellers or filled the demand for bank branches--something the machine's pioneers had promised. According to the FDIC's count, there are close to 75,000 branches today, up from under 58,000 in 1985. Tellers number 539,000, vs. the 484,000 in 1985.

Not to mention the technical infrastructure required to service and maintain these machines and their network...

Durrrr!

Re: (1)

CdBee (742846) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778901)

Umm.. again, that means that low-paid public-facing staff have lost their jobs and better-paid technicians have been hired. This does not disprove my point !

Re: (1)

Skadet (528657) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778947)

Umm.. again, that means that low-paid public-facing staff have lost their jobs and better-paid technicians have been hired. This does not disprove my point !

Well, you might have a personal bone to pick with this ATM thing, but suffice it to say that you need to have posessed something in order to lose it. The best we can extrapolate from the article is, again, that tellers were hired at a slower rate than before -- not that anyone "lost their jobs".

Re:Inshore Outsourcing! (1)

cubicledrone (681598) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778996)

an inventor who made thousands of bank workers lose their jobs to a machine

Actually that's upper and middle management that made thousands of bank workers lose their jobs to a machine, which in turn increased demand for take-out restaurants since we have to order lunch while waiting in line with 47 people for the remaining two tellers.

As usual, companies are always happy to invest in layoffs.

The follow-on devices are interesting... (4, Insightful)

sczimme (603413) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778800)


From the article:

The success of the ATM inspired similar innovations (some more frustrating than others) in a number of nonfinancial industries as well. Full-service gas stations have all but given way to credit card-primed gas pumps. Delta Air Lines has 846 do-it-yourself check-in terminals in 83 U.S. cities. Kroger has self-check-out lanes in more than 1,400 supermarkets. And you can find similar aisles in 850 Home Depot stores.

Pay-at-the-pump stations are so convenient I will not use a traditional pay-inside gas pump unless absolutely necessary, even if it means going a bit out of my way. The self-service check-in option at the airport is a $DEITYsend, too: not checking any bags? Why muck around behind people who have never before seen the inside of an airport? Identify yourself to the kiosk with a credit card or frequent flyer card, get the boarding pass and go.

I find the self-serve lanes at store rather less useful, but am amazed at how quickly the ATM model has become both widespread and nearly indispensable.

Re:The follow-on devices are interesting... (1)

Noofus (114264) | more than 10 years ago | (#9779027)

The pay at the pump gas thing is great. The ATM concept shows through well there. One of my cars is a diesel, and not all diesel pumps have the credit card slot. It really is alot more of a pain to have to pay inside, tell the guy you want deisel, blah blah.

As far as the fast-checkin at the airport. Great! For business travelling I just walk up, swpie a card, hit a couple buttons and be on my way. This leaves the vacationers and longer-term business people (checking bags) to stand in their (now much shorter) lines. Everybopdy wins.

But the u-scan-it places at the grocery stores are a bit of a pain. It works well if you previously worked in retail, otherwise its damn slow. Whenever I try using it, I always think I could have been faster at a regular line unless I only have 1 or 2 items. My fiance on the other hand worked at a drug store when she was in high school and has the skills necessary to find bar codes and scan them through fast.

My favorite ATM story (4, Interesting)

John Murdoch (102085) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778802)

In the (relatively) early days of ATMs a couple of crooks bought a machine, built a nice-looking case around it, and rolled it into a shopping mall. They programmed it to report that "your transaction could not be completed--please try again later." Of course, it wasn't connected to anything--except a recorder that was logging all the ATM card numbers and the customer-entered PINs. The crooks came back, rolled away the ATM, and drained the bank accounts of the poor folks who tried to use the machine.

great minds... (2, Interesting)

Random_Goblin (781985) | more than 10 years ago | (#9779011)

funnily enough, that was exactly the same story [stanford.edu] that came to my mind. You would have though they would have got more than $3000 though

over here in the UK the machines tended to be built into brick walls (hence the expression "i'm just getting some cash from the hole in the wall")

this has led to enterprising thieves using a JCB to steal the whole damn thing [eircom.net] netting a cool $140,000.

just goes to show, that like so much in life, the real money isn't in making something, it's in stealing someone elses.

Ya think? (3, Interesting)

Otter (3800) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778806)

What you might find truly surprising, however, is that as a rule, large banks actually lose money on these moneymakers--at a rate of about $250 a month per machine. They are, ironically, loss leaders, since banks don't generally charge their own customers if they use the banks' machines.

Uh, no kidding? Guess what -- tellers cost them money too!

Obviously, banks make their money on 1) lending out deposits and 2) account fees. Everything else is just designed to get money into the vault, and ATMs are a vastly cheaper way of supporting customers than branches and tellers.

Actually, it's probably just lending out deposited money that's their real business. My impression is that the account fees function more to weed out unprofitable customers than to make money in their own right.

Re:Ya think? (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778944)

I think what they mean is a bank will still operate as a business without a supporting ATM network, but customers appreciate the benefits they bring.

The article said that ATMs has NOT reduced the number of branches or tellers, people do still prefer real life human contact and decision making to occur.

In my eyes, this is a perfect use of technology - supplimenting the deficiencies with technology without replacing humans :)

Re:Ya think? (1)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 10 years ago | (#9779039)

large banks actually lose money on these moneymakers--at a rate of about $250 a month per machine

OK, so what does a bank teller make in a month, including benefits and payroll taxes? Add the overhead cost of the human teller (the floor space he occupies, his parking space, maintenance of the bathroom he uses, the time his boss spends supervising him, etc.). Multiply this by three since the ATM works all three shifts, subtract $250, and you have the net benefit to the bank.

rj

But... (2, Informative)

Zog The Undeniable (632031) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778811)

The halcyon period of the ATM could be over, at least in the UK, as the number of machines that charge up to 1.75UKP for a 10UKP withdrawal continues to increase. Some of the big banks are selling off their networks to the fee-charging operators, although it's possible to make very good money from an ATM network on interchange fees alone.

A tip for /. readers driving in the UK: only stop at Moto service stations when using the motorway network. They use free ATMs; most of the others have signed up with the fee-charging vampires.

Re:But... (1)

AndyS (655) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778917)

Oh god yes. I was really pissed off when (after a long time) I went to South Mimms Services (off the M25), and they'd replaced the nice Natwest cashpoint with "free balance enquiry" ones.

They should say in large bold letters "This ATM will charge you for usage".

Mcdonalds do the same, they have a set of machines outside their shops which charge money. Of course, they don't tell you until you've completed

Re:But... (1)

jbb999 (758019) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778943)

The local shop near me used to take debit cards and I used to shop there sometimes. The last time I went I had about £40 of stuff and tried to pay and got told that I could no longer pay with my debit card but there was a cash machine at the back. I went to get money but it cost £1.50 so I didn't bother. I left all my shopping at the checkout and made it very clear I was not going back to the shop again until they got a more sensible policy. I can't believe I'm the only one who would do that.,

Losing money... (0, Redundant)

pubjames (468013) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778814)

From the article:

What you might find truly surprising, however, is that as a rule, large banks actually lose money on these moneymakers

Oh, poor banks! They have to pay for cash machines and they don't profit from them!

The banks have to have cash machines, if they didn't then they would lose lots of customers to the banks that did have them.

So, if they are charging customers from other banks, that money is profit, since they would have to have the machines for their existing customers anyway.

NOT the history of the automatic teller (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9778825)

Without crediting Edward Teller as the first automatic teller. All the teller does is look for reds to out, answer questions like "Should we build a hydrogen bomb?" and transfer energy between fused hydrogen atoms

Harrumph. (1)

The Ultimate Fartkno (756456) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778826)


Once again, we never get to hear the other side. [blotspens.co.uk]
Damned liberal media...

Sadly, the banks went over the hill. (3, Interesting)

Dark Lord Seth (584963) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778856)

Here in the middle of the Netherlands, ATM and their bastard offspring have become an issue. Oh, they work nicely enough, do what they are supposed to do and of course we got the random bulgarian fuckwits who attach magnetic card readers, so our ATMs work just like any other ATM. The problem is the fact that banks use ATMs as a cheap means to close down local establishments. Instead of talking to a human person, banks now give us two ATMs to withdraw money, another specialized ATM-like thingy to deposit money and a big sticker with an URL on it to their online banking site. ( Which, if I may add, works perfectly with Mozilla. Go ABN-Amro! *ahem* )

For daily stuff this isn't much of an issue and the town where I live in is considered large enough ( 100k+ ) for banks to have permanent establishments, but what about smaller towns? Because this is the middle of nowhere, there are plenty of towns without bank establishments, where it was cheaper for the bank to put an ATM or two in place, promote online banking and telling people to go fuck themselves. Even though for daily use ATM suffice, how about non-daily things? Stuff like opening new accounts, information, major transactions*, mortages and supplemental financial services?

Mind you, this is the Netherlands. Almost no one here has creditcards and instead most of us pay directly from our bank accounts using our bank's card with our PIN. Think of it as an ATM which pays your purchases, comparable to a debit card.

* ) This means anything about EUR 1500 because of the default limit of EUR 1500 max withdrawal per day. Basically, we've got three options if we want to buy something EUR 1500+; use the ATM once a day for several days, raise the limit at a bank establishment and withdraw money at said bank establishment. ( Limits dont apply for non-ATM withdrawals ) Of course, since most establishments have been closed and allot of people around here live in the middle of nowhere, options 2 and 3 aren't really valid unless you want to travel 25km in the hope of finding a local bank establishment. Try paying for a EUR 20k car that way.

Re:Sadly, the banks went over the hill. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9778982)

Wow we should be so lucky to have a 1500Euro limit. In the US most ATMS have a 2-300$ limit per diem. We generally don't make large purchases with cash.

Oh no... an entire article... (5, Funny)

Ieshan (409693) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778860)

Oh no... an entire article with thousands of threads dedicated to calling them ATM Machines. My nitpikc nerves are ready and waiting to have their seizure.

Queueing (2, Funny)

dragonp12 (798787) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778861)

"The line was long and slow, and he became increasingly irritated as his lunch hour dribbled away."

So now, instead of waiting on a teller, we wait in a long line of people trying to get to the ATM with the person at the front repeatedly putting in his card while all the time muttering under his breath "I'm sure I had money in here!"

Sexist comment (3, Interesting)

pubjames (468013) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778864)


Sorry, this is going to come across a bit sexist, but it's an observation of mine that I think is true.

When women use cashpoints, they will often get out tiny amounts of money. Like, ten or twenty pounds. When men use them, they get out much bigger quantities, so they don't have to visit them so often.

I've had girlfriends that have driven me nuts getting out ten pounds, and then a few hours later having to hunt for a cashpoint so they can do it again.

Is this a valid observation or am I just a sexist?

Re:Sexist comment (3, Insightful)

smellystudent (663516) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778924)

I think it's the same principle as my girlfriend putting ten pounds worth of petrol in her car every other day, instead of just filling the tank once a week - if she's got less, she's less likely to use it.

You know the feeling - wallet full of notes, let's go and spend some!

An American invention? (3, Insightful)

mark2003 (632879) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778867)

Why is the hero of this story the chap in Dallas and not the guy in Enfield? Although his invention didn't have all the functionality of the moden machines it also allowed access to cash 24 hours a day, rather like cashing a cheque.

Would it be outrageous to supose that this spin might be because the inventor of the machine in Enfield was not American? Not that I would suggest Americans ever revise history...

Re:An American invention? (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 10 years ago | (#9779024)

First all they DID call him the inventor. Specifically they said "Another tale gives credit to John Shepherd-Barron". The words "gives credit" mean they called him the inventor.

Yes they concentrated on the guy from dallas, but that was reasonable. The last bit of functionality is important. It was only after they made the card instantly returnable that they started to spread and become

ARMs (1)

bwthomas (796211) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778877)

though many of them now also function as retailers, cross-selling IRAs and mortgages to customers who come in with a big deposit. And that is something human beings still do better than any machine. For now.

To paraphrase a line from The Boondock Saints, That's just fuckin' scary. Automatic Retailer Machines. Man, i am not looking forward to a robot selling me a computer. It's like Uncle Tom with LED's... creepy movie idea, huh.

anyway.

Re:ARMs (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 10 years ago | (#9779005)

To paraphrase a line from The Boondock Saints, That's just fuckin' scary. Automatic Retailer Machines. Man, i am not looking forward to a robot selling me a computer.

You're kidding, right?

I built my computer entirely from parts sold to me by machines. I didn't enter a store to buy any component - I connected my computer (my _previous_ computer, pedants, not the one I was about to build) to the P75 firewall, which connected to a machine at the ISP, and thence via a global network of interconnected computer I was able to access the computers of various electronics retailers, and place my orders for components entirely without the involvement of another human being.

Amazing thing, modern technology...

Wow! (1)

cubicledrone (681598) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778902)

'Wow, I think we could build a machine that could do that!' And with a $4 million go-ahead from Docutel's parent company, that's exactly what he and his engineers did.

Imagine that!

Time to fix the drive through (1)

Himring (646324) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778953)

I'm sick and tired of drive-through service. As Joe Pesci put it, "they always screw you in the drive through." And oh hell if you piss them off -- time to eat a snot-burger. It's time to automate drive-through service. Surely, voicecom is far-enough along and/or they can make a push-button system just like an ATM. All the employees would need to do then is keep bin-trails filled with correct burger, fries, whathaveyou. The drinks would be an issue, but if nothing else, remove the need to explain to the human what you want to eat and the exchange of money. Of course, this would end stuff like I used to do when I was 16, ordering $4 worth of food and then putting on an act of, "oh, all I have is a $1.50...." They'd take the buck fiddy and give me all the food anyhow....

Robbing ATMs (1)

alecks (473298) | more than 10 years ago | (#9778997)

Since we're on the topic, I always wonder why thieves don't just drive a truck up to an ATM in some remote location, jack it on their truck, take it home and pull it appart? Surely 20min and 3 somewhat handy guys with some basic tools could pry one of these things off the ground? Can anyone offer some insight? Certainly seems easier than robbing a bank.

Re:Robbing ATMs (1)

JPelorat (5320) | more than 10 years ago | (#9779017)

Yeah, just like they did in Barbershop =)

deposit? (1)

magarity (164372) | more than 10 years ago | (#9779020)

take deposits ... 'Wow, I think we could build a machine that could do that!'

Wow, you can make *deposits* at those things???

$250 loss? (1)

SwansonMarpalum (521840) | more than 10 years ago | (#9779026)

I'm quizzical about the $250 loss figure reported in the article. Is that the cost, or the loss? If it costs $250/month to run an ATM, I'd like the bank to find a human teller who works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for $250 a month. If the ATM costs $250/month more than a human teller's salary, consider that a teller is operating 160 hours a month vs. an atm operating $744. Either way the ATM is saving the bank money. The $250/month figure to me just seems like their excuse to keep the $2 service fees.
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