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that hole in the wall, the atm, and the penguin connection.

 That hole in the wall, the ATM, and the Penguin connection.

Today we continue with our theme of all things related to eCommerce and Online Shopping Deals of the day. Yesterday we delved into the secrets of a cashless society. Today we explore the extraordinary history of that magical place on the high street where humans of all ethnic backgrounds lineup and withdraw their hard-earned cash.

According to the ATM Industry Association (ATMIA), there are approximately 3.5 million ATMs worldwide. However, their use has declined mainly because of increased cashless payments, used by most people who, when out shopping, especially when shopping online, revert to paying with plastic.

This cashless society, a financiers dream for so many years, however, is still not entirely with us, so we still need in our community a place where we can go to top up our wallets, a habit which our bankers, regardless, in some cases reluctantly accept and in doing so have gone to great lengths to ensure that these cash machines are located where they can be used in both safety and comfort.

However, it has to be said that some of these robotic dispensers of hard-earned cash have been situated in some of the strangest, imaginable places.

A case in point is the ATM that the National Bank of Pakistan installed in the Khunjerab Pass at an elevation of over 4,500 meters (15,000 ft). It was just why it was established in a location where there are no shops or houses is virtually impossible to understand.

However, it claims to hold the record of being the world's highest cash machine and perhaps the coldest, as it is designed to operate in temperatures as low as minus 40 degrees Celsius. I pity the poor guy who has to climb that mountain every week to ensure the machine is bull of the ready greens and functional.

Then, of course, it would be remiss of me not to mention what is stated to be the world's loneliest and fridged ATM.

Installed back in 1995 by Wells Fargo, this little gem was located at the McMurdo Station in Antarctica for use by scientists studying the area. Why they would need it is beyond me as the only other inhabitants of the area are elephant seals and penguins, but there it is, and there, according to Wells Fargo, is where it will stay.

Just for a moment, let us diverse. This has nothing to do with our story, but while researching, it did intrigue me.

Did you know that when a penguin parts wind, it lets out enormous clouds of laughing gas? There, I told you, it had nothing to do with our story, but now you know why penguins always seem to be laughing.

Anyway, penguins aside, let us get back to our story.

With over 3.5 million ATMs operating worldwide, you would think that its inventor, an unassuming man named Adrian Ashfield, who first came up with the basic idea of a cashpoint machine, would be worth quite a lot of money.

However, as is the case of many inventors, he is not, believe it or not, he was awarded by his employers W. S. Atkins & Partners the princely sum of 10 shillings, in today money would be about 50 cents.

Following this invention, we now move on where we are told the first-ever cash machine was installed.

The British banking giant Barclays lay claim to this monumental decision when, on June 27, 1967, a well-known actor of the time, British comedian Reg Varney was asked to make the first-ever cash withdrawal from an ATM installed at the Barclays Enfield Town, North London Branch, the era of the hole in the wall and fast cash had dawned.

Authors note: The engineer who set up this machine was a gentleman named John Shepherd-Barron, who worked at a printing firm called De La Rue. He had for many years, as the story goes, wondered why he could buy a bar of his favorite chocolate from an automatic machine anywhere in the world but could not get access to his own money.

As they say from little acorns grow big ideas, his basic idea soon followed, replacing the chocolate in the machine with cash.

Of course, all this automatic dispensing of money did not go unnoticed across the United States pond.

America had already attempted to usher in automatic cash dispensers back in  New York City in 1961 with a machine called the Bankograph. Unfortunately, the device installed outside the City Bank of New York did not receive enough support from its clients, so it was shut down after just six months.

It was only after looking at the experiences users were having in Europe that America took the plunge. In 1968, the department head of the financial company Docutel, Mr. Donald Wetzel, designed and upgraded a machine initially intended for baggage handling and automatic gasoline pumps over America's first automatic cash withdrawal machine.

This machine was then installed, on September 2, 1969, inside the Chemical Bank, Rockville Centre, New York, with a sign which stated, "On September 2 our bank will open at 9:00 and never close again".

And as the old saying goes, the rest is history. Never again will we have to ignore that little lemonade stand on the side of the street because we don't have any cash. Just insert your card, and if you have money in your account, you will hit the jackpot every time, no matter where you are in the world.

Well, folks, that's it. I do thank you for taking the time to read. It is most appreciated. Come back tomorrow, where we will continue our quest throughout the world of cash.

You never know. We might learn other things about the penguins of Antarctica or the poor soul who has to climb over 15,000 ft up a mountain in freezing temperatures to ensure we have access to our hard-earned cash.

So on behalf of the Vandergraph family and every employee at, together we "Thank you for shopping with us today."

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