John Shepherd-Barron

John Shepherd-Barron

What's the most useful Scottish invention of all time? Anaesthetics, tarmacadam, the telephone, television ? Nope, it's none of these. Here's a wee clue:

It's three-o-clock in the morning, you're pished, you've spent all your money, lost your mobile, and it's a six mile walk home. All the anaesthetics and televisions in the world are no bloody use. What you need is money for a taxi.

The invention which revolutionised the chaotic lifestyle is the cash dispenser, the hole-in-the-wall, the Automatic Telling Machine, the wee beauty that spits out cash as long as your not so pished that you put the wrong pin number in three times and the wee fucker eats your card.

And it was invented by John Shepherd-Barron, a Scotsman.

The first ATM was installed in Barclays in London in 1967 and the maximum withdrawal was £10, in crispy one pound notes. Ten quid was deemed enough money to get you through the weekend. Today, it gets you three pints of shite gassy lager in some of the trendier bars of Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Today, there are more than 1.5 million cash machines installed globally. If each machine serves 10 people a hour, and 10 per cent of them are pished, that's an incredible 13 billion drunks helped on their way to Blootered-blootered land every year.

Without a doubt, the most useful invention ever.

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