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James Goodfellow

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James Goodfellow (1937 - ) is credited with inventing the automated teller machine (ATM), patenting the technology behind the personal identification number (PIN) and the cash machine.

In 1965, he invented a system which used a machine readable encrypted card, and had a numerical PIN keypad.[1]

(Note: Dates of invention and patent seem to vary between some articles. UK Patent No 1,197,183 has a definite priority date of 02 May 1966. Hall of Fae entry gives project start as 1965.)

Although he received an OBE in the 2006 Queen's Birthday Honours for his invention of the PIN, he expressed his regrets at the lack of recognition and compensation for his inventiveness, since PIN codes were widely adopted and have become ubiquitous.[2]

Goodfellow received only a £10 bonus for his invention and patent. He was then an engineer in his 20s, working for Glasgow company Kelvin Hughes, when he was tasked with finding a way for customers to withdraw money from the bank after the end of Saturday opening.

He continued to generate innovative design ideas and leadership throughout his career and received two IBM Outstanding Technical Achievement Awards.

In 2016, he laid to rest a counterclaim made by some that he was not the inventor of the ATM:

But the hornet’s nest was well and truly disturbed, when to Mr Goodfellow’s chagrin in 2005, Scot John Shepherd-Barron, a retired banker from Tain, received credit for inventing the “hole in the wall” cash machine.

He was awarded the OBE in the New Year’s Honours list for installing the first automatic teller machine at Barclays Bank in Enfield, north London, almost 50 years ago.

Mr Goodfellow insisted that he was the true inventor, as he came up with the Pin invention, the key to making the machines actually work when he was a 28-year-old engineer.

The following year, Mr Goodfellow was finally recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, and was awarded an OBE.
“It got my hackles up. I shot to the loft and dug out my patents and wrote to the Patent Office for a copy of John Shepherd-Barron’s patent and they had never heard of him. I asked for the validity of my patent and they confirmed that.

- Inventor of bank card Pin hit by lack of credit - HeraldScotland.[3]

Also in 2016, he was one of four engineers to be added to the Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame.[4][5]


1 So whose razor-sharp mind has the edge? - The Scotsman Retrieved January 21, 2017.

2 BBC NEWS | Scotland | Glasgow and West | Royal honour for inventor of Pin Retrieved January 21, 2017.

3 Inventor of bank card Pin hit by lack of credit - HeraldScotland Retrieved January 21, 2017.

4 ATM inventor among four Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame additions - BBC News Retrieved January 21, 2017.

5 Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame Retrieved January 21, 2017.

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