Here’s Where America’s First ATM Machine Arrived 50 Years Ago

September 6, 2019

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- The first ATM in the U.S. arrived 50 years ago this week on Long Island.

Don Wetzel, who gets credit for inventing the ATM, tells WCBS 880 that the machine was a hit with customers, but the banks were a harder sell.

"They were worried about putting a lot of cash in a machine that was out in a public place because all of these machines primarily were in the outside walls of the banks so anybody could see it from a car or walk up to it or touch it," Wetzel said. "So they were a little bit weary about putting $20,000 in that machine and the bank was closed over a weekend or at night so that scared them."

Wetzel worked for Docutel, which pioneered automated systems for baggage handling at airports before jumping into the ATM business.

The first device was called the "Docuteller."

So did Wetzel's creation make him a wealthy man? He says he never got a penny for inventing the machine.

"The patent was actually owned by the company," Wetzel said. "The benefit I got out of it was I got to keep my job."

Chase Bank and the Nassau County Development Agency are marking the anniversary Friday in Rockville Centre, where the first ATM was installed in a Chemical Bank on Sept. 2, 1969.