James Goodfellow's invention transformed the way we get cash from banks worldwide.

James Goodfellow's invention transformed the way we get cash from banks worldwide.

James Goodfellow

Born 1937

James Goodfellow

inventor and first patentor of the automated teller

Engineering Achievements

In the early 1960's, banks in the UK wanted to close on Saturday mornings. A method had to be found to provide an acceptable level of service for customers who work during banking hours. An automatic cash dispenser was seen as the solution, a concept that had been around since the thirties. As a Development engineer with Smiths Industries Ltd, James Goodfellow was given the Project in 1965. Chubb Lock & Safe Co. were to provide the secure physical housing and the mechanical dispenser mechanism.

"My task was to design the means of allowing a customer, and only a genuine customer, to actuate the dispenser mechanism. Areas researched included fingerprints, voice recognition, retinal patterns, card intrinsic value equal to value of money issued, magnetic strip, on line operation, imbedded resistive network on the card etc. These approaches all foundered on technical feasibility / cost / bulk or just price / performance criteria. It was obvious that a new solution had to be found. Eventually I designed a system which accepted a machine readable encrypted card, to which I added a numerical keypad into which an obscurely related Personal Identification Number had to be entered manually, by the customer. This PIN was known only to the person to whom the card was issued. When these two inputs were decoded, their correspondence was checked by the system. If card and keypad inputs agreed, the cash dispenser mechanism was activated and the appropriate money was fed out to the customer."

This breakthrough was the pivotal invention that made a reality of the vision of people since the nineteen thirties. The Automatic Cash Dispenser / ATM proved to be a viable, practical machine, both simple to use for the customer and secure for the banks, with low initial cost and high reliability.

UK Patent No. 1,197,183 with a priority date of May 2 1966, covers this invention. It is also covered by US Patent No.3,905,461 and Patents granted by many other countries. These Patents named James Goodfellow as inventor, along with the late A.I.O.Davies, the company General Manager. This US Patent still describes the basic ATM function almost 40 years later. These Machines were marketed by Chubb Ltd and installed nationwide in the UK during the late 60s and early 70s.

James contimued to generate innovative design ideas and leadership throughout his career, being twice a recipient of IBM's Outstanding Technical Achievement Award.

His Life

  1. 1937 Born in Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland
  2. 1953 Age: 16 Apprentice, Renfrew Electrical & Radio Engineers
  3. 1958 Age: 21 National Service - REME, designed mobile electronics workshop to support "Thunderbird" SAM
  4. 1961 Age: 24 Joined Kelvin Hughes (Smiths Industrial Division) as a Development Engineer
  5. 1964 Age: 27 Electronic Control Systems - Fairmont, West Virginia- 1 month
  6. 1964 Age: 27 Motorola Solid State Systems - Scottsdale, Arizona- 3 months
  7. 1965 Age: 28 Eastman Kodak - Kingsport, Tennessee- 2 weeks, installing experimental digital temperature control system.
  8. 1965 Age: 28 Began Cash Machine project.
  9. 1966 Age: 29 Cash Machine Patent applied for on 2 May
  10. 1967 Age: 30 Joined IBM Greenock as a test engineer
  11. 1968 Age: 31 San Jose, California- 12 weeks, design of controller for the 5444 disc file system
  12. 1969 Age: 32 Uithoorn, Netherlands- 6 months, design of test equipment and methodology for the 1275 OCR cheque sorting system
  13. 1971 Age: 34 Endicott, NY- 14 months, assisting in design and build of the Multi Purpose Test System
  14. 1974 Age: 37 Design of "CADET" ( CArd Debug Evaluation Tester )
  15. 1974 Age: 37 Awarded IBM Outstanding Technical Achievement Award
  16. 1978 Age: 41 Appointed Card test manager
  17. 1982 Age: 45 Appointed Engineering Laboratory manager
  18. 1988 Age: 51 Managed and worked on the design of Electro Magnetic Compatibility Laboratories
  19. 1988 Age: 51 Awarded IBM Outstanding Technical Achievement Award
  20. 1992 Age: 55 Retired
  21. 1994 Age: 57 Lay member of HMI - Schools
  22. 2000 Age: 63 UK Patent GB 2 303 945 Granted 16 August "Improvements in or relating to computers"
  23. 2006 Age: 69 Awarded OBE
  24. 2009 Age: 72 John Logie Baird award winner for "outstanding innovation"
  25. 2012 Age: 75 Placed third in the British Visionary Inventor award run by the Intellectual Property Office
  26. 2013 Age: 76 First inductee into Paymts.com Hall of Fame at Harvard University
  27. 2014 Age: 77 Honorary doctorate University of West of Scotland
  28. 2016 Age: 79 Inducted into Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame on 7 October

His Legacy

What we now call the automated telling machine (ATM) spread throughout the world, and has been a transformative technology with an estimated 3 million machines. It has become an essential part of modern life, but although conceived in the 1930s as an idea, it took James Goodfellow's invention to make the concept a reality. He received £10 bonus from his employer for the invention. The ATM is listed in National Geographic's 2015 publication "100 events that changed the world", but wrongly naming another Scot, John Shepherd-Barron, whose claim in 2005 had been widely publicised but had prompted James Goodfellow to make his prior patents known, after which he was recognised with his OBE. James Goodfellow is now generally accepted as being the inventor of the ATM.

More recently, his 2000 patent for an LCD pad, A4 or Paperback size, wirelessly conected to a home PC, acting as dumb terminal, providing touch sensitive input and LCD display output remotely sounds very familiar.

More Information

James Goodfellow interviewed by John Humphrys on BBC Radio 4 "Today" programme How the PIN Number was invented 2 May 2016
Subject of "Pioneers". BBC Radio Scotland first broadcast 2011.
The 'eureka moment' that led to the PIN: Inventor recalls how created the security system as it marks its 50th anniversary Daily Mail, 2 May 2016
Inventor of bank card Pin hit by lack of credit The Herald, 2 May 2016
James Goodfellow: Inventor of the PIN QE Prize website. Accessed 27 Sep 2016
Meet the Glasgow engineer who forever changed the way you handle your money Glasgow Live 2 May 2016
Interviewed on BBC Radio 4 "Today" programme on 50th anniversary of first patent. 2 May 2016
Download: JamesGoodfellowAcceptanceSpeech Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame, James Watt Dinner, 7 October 2016

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