Dayton played big part in growth of ATM

Ken Justice, senior vice president and ATM executive for PNC Bank, says ATM machines are more integral to banking than ever. THOMAS GNAU/STAFF
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Ken Justice, senior vice president and ATM executive for PNC Bank, says ATM machines are more integral to banking than ever. THOMAS GNAU/STAFF

ATM invented 50 years ago; led to growth of NCR

The automatic teller machine — known everywhere as the ATM — just turned 50 years old. But even at the half-century mark, the cash-dispensing machines aren’t showing their age, thanks in part to innovations that originated here in Dayton.

If anything, they’re evolving and more ubiquitous than ever, said Ken Justice, senior vice president and ATM executive for PNC Bank.

When Justice started in banking in 1982, banking customers used ATMs as a way to get cash after their personal bank branch was closed for the evening.

“It was really a convenience, a way to make banking easier,” Justice said. “It started out, you could get cash after hours at your branch. And then you could make a deposit at an ATM, but you had to put it in an envelope.”

Still, most ATMs were at customers’ branches.

That gradually changed. Today, the machines can be found in university buildings, groceries, workplaces, convenience stores and drive-up islands off well-traveled roads — and dozens of other locales. Customers can use them 24 hours a day at their branches or elsewhere, often for a fee.

While the ATM was not invented in Dayton, much of the flexibility and technology people take for granted happened here. NCR — based in Dayton until 2009 — was often at the forefront of ATM innovations, Justice said. The company would update the machine’s technology through work in Dayton.

”I think the people that were creating the strategy, determining what the next ATM needed to do, a lot of them were actually here (in Dayton),” Justice said.

Brady Kress, president and chief executive of Dayton History, agreed that much of the evolution of ATMs originated in the Gem City.

Kress mentioned the NCR 770, a milestone self-service machine from the mid 1970s. NCR also refined related technologies, such as the magnetic strips used on card readers today, LCD screens and thermal printing paper, all with links to Dayton ingenuity.

“Once the concept was out there and perfected, I think NCR really ran with it,” Kress said.

Today, ATMs are changing with consumer tastes.

“As the role of (bank) branches has changed, to be more sales and service-oriented, and less of a transaction place, then the ability to do more of these transactions away from the traditional teller line is what people really migrated towards,” Justice said.

“Over time, we see that self-service devices like the ATM laid the groundwork for today’s range of digital retail financial services,” the ATM Industry Association, an industry trade group, said in a 50th anniversary remembrance. “New services and technology, such as bio-metric and anti-fraud solutions, are continuously contributing to the on-going innovation of the ATM.”

If you think customers no longer use cash, think again. According to the association, the average year-on-year increase in the use of cash worldwide from 2009 to 2013 was nearly 9 percent.

Though multiple inventors were competing in the 1960s and multiple patents were being filed, what is generally regarded as the first cash dispensing ATM was installed at a London bank in 1967. Reg Varney, a star from a British television show, “On the Buses,” became the first person to withdraw cash from such a machine.

In the early days, customers were able to withdraw no more than $14 in cash per transaction from their own accounts with a “specially impregnated” check and a personal identification number, the New York Times said.

John Shepherd-Barron, the India-born Scotsman credited with inventing the automated teller machine, died in 2010 in Scotland.

PNC has 33 branches in the Dayton region. Justice put the number of PNC ATMs in Southern Ohio and Northern Kentucky at 414. Across the company, there are 9,000 ATMs total.