A Short History of Credit Union ATMs
A Short History of Credit Union ATMs

Credit Unions know how important ATMs are to their members. The ability to withdraw cash instantly at any given time is something most people directly relate to their banking experience. The convenience of the Automatic Teller Machine wasn’t always available though. Here’s a short history of credit union ATMs.

ATMs came into existence in the 1960s in Europe. The so-called “Father” of the ATM was John Shepard-Barron who came to the idea in his bathtub after he ran late and missed the closing of his bank on a Saturday, unable to pull out money for the weekend. The invention came from that and a combination of his love for chocolate. He believed pulling out money from his financial institution should be just as easy as purchasing a candy bar from a vending machine. At the time, Shepard-Barron was working for a global currency printing company and had the idea of simply switching chocolate for cash. He took the idea to his supervisors who then presented the idea to Barclays Bank in London.

The first ATM began dispensing cash in London on June 27, 1967. It used a one-time-use paper voucher system, which would mail the paper voucher back to the member to be used again. The paper vouchers had slightly radioactive isotope carbon 14 marks that the machine would read and match against a PIN number. The PIN number was also created by John Shepard-Barron who began with a 6 digit number. It was his wife who refined this to only four digits, which she said would be easier to remember.

Shortly after, ATMs like Shepard-Barron’s original concept began showing up all over the world. The first ATM only withdrew cash but it wasn’t long until a total teller system came into existence in 1971. Much like credit union ATM networks today, the first ATM did not charge a fee to withdraw money. This is one of many great things that differentiate credit unions from banks. Credit unions are able to offer their members ATM networks which makes it possible for them to have access to their money anytime and anywhere, often fee-free and with little limitations, just like John Shepard Barron once dreamed of.

Oak Tree Business Systems, Inc. is here to further assist you in making your members’ dream experience possible and enjoyable. With new technological innovation always on the horizon, Oak Tree is always in the know and up to date on your complaint forms needs. We offer a wide range of Credit Union services from membership applications and lending documents to data linking and compliance training services. Chat with us on our website or email us at clientservices@oaktreebiz.com and let us get you the forms you need to set your members up for success. You never know – you could have the inventor of the next great technology in your midst.


Stokel-Walker, Chris. “A Brief History of the ATM.” Mental Floss. Felix Dennis, 25 Sept. 2013. Web. 1 March 2016.
Bellis, Mary. “The ATM Machine of Don Wetzel.” About Money. About.com, 04 Dec. 2014. Web. 1 March 2016.