State Bank of India on Saturday inaugurated an ATM at the Gordon Robert Hospital, without mentioning even a word on the innovator of automated teller machine, popularly known as the ATM.

The Gordon Robert Hospital in Shillong, which is set to turn 100 in 2022, has strong links with John Adrian Shepherd Barron, the inventor of ATM.

John Adrian Shepherd Barron was born at the Gordon Robert Hospital in Shillong on June 23, 1925; about three years after the hospital came into existence.

“On behalf of SBI, we are really delighted to have this opportunity to have an ATM in this iconic hospital, which has completed almost 100 years of its service to the people,” Ramesh RS, the Chief General Manager (Northeast Circle) of SBI, said.

The CGM of SBI also lauded the doctors of the hospital for the yeomen service to the people of Meghalaya, and especially amid the Covid19 pandemic.

Amit Kumar, Deputy General Manager of SBI and Dr Roken Nongrum, Medical Superintendent of Gordon Robert Hospital were also present at the inauguration of the ATM.

Surprisingly, the SBI honchos did not mention a single word about John Adrian Shepherd Barron, the founder of ATM.

The Shillong-born British innovator had joined the De La Rue in the 1950s as a management trainee and grew to become Managing Director.

He conceived the idea for a self-service machine dispensing cash whilst lying in the bath. He was inspired by chocolate vending machines to conceive the idea of cash vending machines.

The first De La Rue Automatic Cash System (DACS) machine, called Barclaycash, was installed outside the Enfield branch of Barclays Bank in north London in June 1967.

And, the first person to withdraw cash at the DACS machine was actor Reg Varney, a celebrity resident of Enfield.

Now, life without ATMs is almost impossible for all kinds of bank customers across the globe.

While the SBI officials ignored John Adrian Shepherd Barron’s links with the hospital, it is surprising that even the doctors at the Gordon Robert Hospital in Shillong forgot to mention about him.

John Adrian Shepherd Barron was born in Shillong while his father, Wilfred Shepherd Barron was the chief engineer of the Chittagong Port Commissioners, which was then part of the British Empire.

His mother Dorothy was an Olympic tennis player and Wimbledon women’s doubles champion.

Though there is no record of the British innovator leaving Shillong, it is apparent that the family left after his Scottish father took over as the Chief Engineer of the Port of London Authority.

John Adrian Shepherd Barron was educated at Stowe School, the University of Edinburgh and Trinity College, Cambridge. During World War II, he was commissioned into the Airborne Forces, serving with the 159th Parachute Light Regiment.

The innovator of ATM died on May 15, 2010 after a brief illness at the age of 84 at the Raigmore Hospital at Inverness in Scotland.

His son, Nicholas Shepherd-Barron is professor of algebraic geometry at the King’s College London.

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Anirban Roy

Anirban Roy is Editor-in-Chief of Northeast Now. He can be reached at: editor@nenow.in