I’ve just learnt that John Shepherd-Barron, who invented the ATM, is dead.

Strange how we don’t know who these nameless, faceless inventors are of the things we now take for granted.

Who invented the washing machine? The internet? Credit cards? Electricity even?

I only know the last one … I think.

I’d love to be an inventor. I want to invent just one thing. Don’t know what it is yet!

“Inventors can be said to resemble artists more than they do scientists … With unerring frequency, their personal affairs go wildly astray … This is a condition any musician or painter would recognize in a flash,” says David Lindsay in House of Invention.

I’m inclined to agree.

I recall the first time I used an ATM. It was at Sussex University in 1982 at Barclays. I pushed the ATM card in, keyed in my PIN. Then, to my surprise, my ATM card popped back out. “No” I muttered and pushed it back in. The recalcitrant machine then swallowed my card!

Like a fool I later realised that I had to pull out the card before it the machine would dispense the cash. It helps to read the instructions on the screen!

But now, after so many years, I’m getting pretty good with ATMs. I’ve stopped cursing at them or glancing over my shoulder, in case someone wants to rob me.

I still don’t fully trust ATMs though. It may be because they don’t trust me! 🙂