Борис Бурда
Author: Boris Burda
Journalist, writer, bard. Winner of the «Diamond Owl» intellectual game «What? Where? When?»
Liberal Arts
7 minutes for reading

NON-RIVIAL SOLUTION: How not to be left without money?

NON-RIVIAL SOLUTION: How not to be left without money?
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Victor Dubreuil. Barrels of money. 1897


If you have money, can you buy whatever you need? For various reasons – not always. The most elementary thing – you just didn’t keep track of your expenses and you ran out of money in your pocket?

Run home? And if you are in another city, and you need money urgently? What to do?

The answer is a little later.




This is not a far-fetched problem – people have faced it all the time. Let’s take out of the brackets the need, in principle, to have more money – in general, this is an unsolvable problem, but in each particular case there is usually a way out. What if you have money, but not with you?

Keep in mind that the advice to put more in your pocket did not always help. A pocket is an innovation in clothing, until the 15th century there were simply no pockets. Where have you seen a pocket on a tunic or toga? And in the Japanese suit there are no pockets – money was dragged in the sleeves, and it was not pickpockets that were stolen there, but those who stole from sleeves.

The ancient Greeks kept small change for urgent needs … in their mouth! They just put a few coins on their cheeks and spit them out if necessary. But you can’t put a lot in your mouth – keep in mind that gold coins were a Persian rarity for a long time, and the Greeks only got it under Alexander the Great.

As a palliative, people tied bags made of leather or fabric to their belts – for money and in general for all the essentials. Even the ancient man Ötzi, frozen in the Alps 5,000 years ago, had such a pocket with flint, bone awl, scraper and dried mushroom in addition.

NON-RIVIAL SOLUTION: How not to be left without money?
Ötzi with a pocket on a belt/bbc.com




The first pocket was not, in fact, a pocket – just a belt with a money bag was put on a naked body, and cuts were made in the pants to get to the bag without taking off the pants in front of everyone. Later, an unknown genius simply sewed an open bag to such a cut.

For a long time after that, women continued to wear a belt with a bag under their skirts. In this regard, discrimination has not been overcome yet – women’s pockets are usually smaller than men’s, so they also have to carry a purse with them, and men do not have to (although they can).

Later the pocket evolved, multiplied and became very different. There are special pockets for watches, secret pockets, which even the owner would not find right away, let alone a thief, and before Prohibition one could often see even a beer pocket on the clothes of Americans – exactly for a bottle of beer.

But the capacity of the pocket is not limitless. There won’t be enough metal money in it, even paper money may not be enough, and in general, carrying a lot of money with you is a very attractive idea for street robbers. So the prospect of spending everything and suddenly being left without money is real.




The problem of transporting money over ultra-long distances somehow began to be solved. The Templars (I already wrote about this) invented a personal check with a fingerprint – present it in any preceptor of the Order, even in Paris, even in Jerusalem, and you will receive your money in the local hard currency.

The Templars were ravaged and burned for the annoying wealth of the French king, but the ideas, unlike the manuscripts (Bulgakov, unfortunately, was not quite right), really do not burn. Banks that existed in ancient Babylon realized that there was something in this idea.

The idea of ​​checkbooks took shape quite quickly – how much money you can take, it says there, a fingerprint that does not require professional processing is a means of identifying your personality, and your signature is a rather individual and recognizable thing.

It was possible to pay by check anywhere – just write it out, subscribe and give it away. You will come with a check to a bank branch and, if everything is in order with it, you will receive money. Sometimes it was possible to get it, and when not everything is in order – check frauds were common.




The decisive step in solving the problem was made by a man who was born in India, in the family of a Scotsman, chief engineer of the port of Chittagong (later – and chief engineer of the port of London). His mother, Dorothy, was a famous tennis player, Wimbledon doubles champion.

He got a new idea in the same place as Archimedes – in the bath. After sinking into warm water, he noticed that he had displaced the corresponding amount of water and the level in the bath increased. He wondered – shouldn’t he put a check into a conditional money bath so that it would displace money?

He could have forgotten it, but once he came to the bank for money, and he was refused ,”we have the issue until 12.30, and at 12.31, come tomorrow”. Anyone will go berserk from such an affront due to a minute delay (!). So our hero, John Shepherd-Barron, came up with an idea out of despair.

NON-RIVIAL SOLUTION: How not to be left without money?
John Shepherd-Barron/kknews.cc




The main thing in a device that allows you to receive money is that only the one who is supposed to do it, and not anyone else, can do it. Shepherd-Barron, perhaps, even reinsured – on the card that allows you to get money, there was only a tag made of radioactive carbon-14.

Shepherd-Barron assured everyone that such doses of beta radiation are safe – according to him, 136,000 of these cards would have to be eaten for the body to somehow notice it. But this was not the only security measure – the recipient had to enter a code known only to him.

The length of this code was eventually established by his wife – when asked if she was ready to memorize a six-digit code, he received a sharp answer that she was not ready for this, strongly disagreed, and no woman would remember that. Four digits is the maximum!

But the main difference between his device and modern designs was that the cards used in it were disposable. I spent it – and hello, get a new one in the bank. And it was issued no more than 10 pounds – then that was enough for a walk on the weekend (inflation, however!).


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Nevertheless, it was the device invented by John Shepherd-Barron that was first installed and actually worked for the first time in history. It was done by Barclays Bank next to its branch in Anfield, north London. In honor of the bank, it received the name Barclaycash.

NON-RIVIAL SOLUTION: How not to be left without money?
Barclays Bank branch in Anfield – site of the first ATM / wikipedia.org

It started working in London in June 1967, and already in November, less than six months later, the same device was installed outside the UK, in the bankers’ city of Zurich. The first to withdraw money from it was a famous actor, a resident of Anfield, Reg Varney – do you think by chance?

In pre-Internet times, the problem of communicating with the bank and accounting for the transaction was quite complex. In Australia, for example, they built a similar device with a reusable card. The aggregate simply swallowed it, it was sent to the bank, processed, and the bank sent it to the owner by mail.

A device more similar to modern samples was proposed by another Scotsman, James Goodfellow – there, too, they have already reached reusable cards, and the system for entering pin codes more resembled modern devices than the Shepherd-Barron unit. But he was the first!




It turned out to be a popular device that will give you money already in your bank account. When we managed to realize this, the further is a matter of technology!




Problems began immediately – for example, the same Zurich ATM began to malfunction inexplicably, and then it turned out that a tram passing by was sparking and interfering. And in London, a case of hacking an ATM was recorded – the first in the world, but, unfortunately, not the last.

Nevertheless, the problems were solved. Soon, the Americans corrected the mistake of Shepherd-Barron, who did not patent his invention so as not to reveal the secrets of his device – as you can see, it did not help, only deprived him of a lot of money. True, the glory of the discoverer remained with him.

Soon the American Chemical Bank advertised in a newspaper: “The Long Island branch of the bank opens its doors on September 3, 1969, and will never close them again”. It was already practically a modern ATM. However, they said ATM – Automated teller machine.

The development of telecommunications made it possible to build ATM networks that could be used by several banks at once. It happened for the first time in 1972-1975 in the United States. Later, ATMs appeared that were able not only to issue cash, but also to accept it.

Already in the 80s, ATMs have become almost the same as we are used to. They were available online, were in constant communication with the bank and worked not from vouchers, but from cards with a magnetic stripe. In 1975 there were more than 5,000 ATMs in operation, in 2011 – almost 2,500,000.




The variety of ATM machines has become beyond imagination. ATMs have learned to speak several languages, and even Latin has become available to ATM users in the Vatican Cathedral of St. Peter! Whether to consider it a dead language after that – I don’t know …

NON-RIVIAL SOLUTION: How not to be left without money?
Vatican ATM in Latin/latin.stackexchange

At the famous NBA All-Star Basketball Game in 2016 in Canada, a rather unusual ATM was installed in the hall where the game was going. An ATM is like an ATM, but very high – to use it, you must be at least two meters tall. Basketball players – they are interesting …

A Japanese bank was found that combined its ATM with a “one-armed bandit” – an electronic game device. If you win, you won’t pay any transaction fees or even win a couple of hundred yen. The money is small, but advertising of the bank is more expensive – the Japanese are gambling people.

Whoever harms from ATMs is the poor – people go without cash, there is nothing to give. But one German monastery has already taken action by installing a dedicated ATM machine for donations to the poor. The ATM issues a receipt for the donation for the tax office.

In addition to ATMs, there are already tank machines – there are no military equipment. There is such a thing at the gas station, you connect the hose, swipe it with a card and directly from this card the gas station withdraws money for the gasoline received.

Everyone likes ATMs, and only the residents of Gabrovo, a city of pathological misers, glorified in anecdotes, are rumored to be not very happy with them. No, everything is fine, they give money, it is easy to work with them, but you cannot bargain with them – what pleasure is it?




It is natural for a person to think that he is more cunning than any machine. And some people do manage to deceive the ATM – if not the piece of hardware itself, then its gullible and careless customers. It is better to know the main ways of such deception, so as not to deceive you personally.

If you have written down your PIN-code on the card so as not to forget it, the one who stole your card will not even have to calculate it. Try to remember the four numbers, without writing down anywhere. Even Shepherd-Barron’s wife agreed that six numbers cannot be memorized, but four are still possible.

There is such a nasty attack as “friendly fraud” – you give your card to family members, close friends, work colleagues. And then, when money starts to disappear from the card, even if it was not they who took it, you cannot be sure of it – a nightmare!

If, when you are dialing the pin-code, someone impudently looms behind you – do not dial, first turn around and look at him so that he moves away. Otherwise, he will spy on the pin code, and then steal or take the card from you and do whatever he wants with it. Cover yourself with your hand.

There is such a “Lebanese loop” – you put your card into an ATM, and it gets stuck. The crook, who has already spied on the PIN code, stands nearby and advises to run to the service – “Here it is, there, I know!” If anyone believes him, he will carefully pull out your card, and see above – money bye-bye.

Rarely, but there is a fake ATM. He will take the card, demand a pin code, and then inform that there is no money, and return the card. But he has already copied it – the crooks will then make a card with the same data as yours, and will use it as they want, but you do not want.

Well, the main danger is skimming. This is when a device is hovered on an ATM that reads your card and steals a pin code. This is usually a keyboard overlay that looks a lot like a real keyboard. Check if everything is in order, or you can only complain about yourself!

I’m not even talking about telephone and Internet scammers who require the information of your card on behalf of the bank – you just don’t have to be a mug. Banks never ask that! Remember that in 2006 alone, crooks stole about a billion hryvnia from cards in Ukraine!




Now, without ATMs, we don’t even remember well how we used to live. Everyone has several cards in their wallets, by the way, now you can do the same without cards – phones have already been trained to do the same. It’s much easier to carry one card than a stack of bills, right?

As a result, the ATMs hurt themselves. What is an ATM? In principle, this is a system of settlements with a bank for money. And if you just pay in a store with a card, then you don’t need an ATM? So their number in the world has even dropped somewhat in recent years, but so far there are enough of them.

ATMs have become an example of the highest reliability household devices. The percentage of availability for host systems that manage ATM networks reaches 99.999% – five nines, are there many examples of this in everyday life? People trust ATMs and use them willingly.

John Shepherd-Barron himself, although he did not get rich from his invention, received moral satisfaction. In 2007, he traveled to Thailand and saw a local resident drive up to an ATM in a bull-drawn carriage and respectfully take off his hat before using it. Then Shepherd-Barron said,”Then for the first time it seemed to me that we changed the world”.




It’s bad, of course, to be wasteful and spend more money than you took from home in advance. But if it weren’t for that, how would we have gotten such a useful invention?

You should always be interested in the convenience of the end user. If Shepherd-Barron hadn’t asked his wife how many digits a pin code should be, how much trouble would those who forgot it be?

When Shepherd-Barron was denied money at the bank because of a minute delay, he walked past the machine selling chocolates and thought: “Why can I buy a chocolate bar 24 hours a day, and get money in the bank only before lunch?” Use associations – they help!

Remember that crooks are resourceful people! It is reported that the thermal scanner can read which keys on the ATM were pressed and in what order. But there is a gas mask for every gas – slide your hand over the keyboard at the end of the operation and you will be safe!

And one more detail – if a person needs money, he will always figure out how to get it! Someone will come up with it first, and then tell others …

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