The world’s ‘First Drive-Through’ ATM

From the time the first automated teller machine was invented, it was only a matter of time before someone would come along and create the world’s first ‘drive-through’ version, allowing customers to withdraw cash without even getting out of their cars.

But when and where did this happen?

Given America’s love affair with the automobile, you would think it safe to assume the answer would be somewhere in the US, perhaps in the mid-1980’s?

But you’d be wrong.

Although ‘drive-thru’ ATMs became extremely popular in the US through the 1980’s – the first one was built by NCR and installed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1980 – the world’s first ‘drive-through’ ATM was installed by the Royal Bank of Scotland at its Drummonds branch in Trafalgar Square, London in 1979.

This was nothing to do with market demand or even a desire to be different, but was because the ATM’s inventor, John Shepherd-Barron, had recently married the daughter of the bank’s chairman. With his office nearby in Piccadilly, he persuaded his father-in-law to install one just so he could grab some cash from his car on his way home.

As only he and about half-a-dozen other people ever used it, the machine was eventually removed. But, as this recent picture shows, the space remains.

Perhaps it’s time to put it back? At least it would give me somewhere to park the car when in London.