Luther George Simjian, Inventor of the Automated Teller Machine (ATM)

Luther George Simjian, Inventor of the Automated Teller Machine (ATM)

“Many called him the second Thomas A. Edison.” - Richard G. Snyder

Who he was

Simjian was a prolific inventor who held over 200 patents including for the automated teller machine (ATM) and the teleprompter. 

Born in the Ottoman Empire, he was orphaned during the Armenian Genocide, fled to the United States and settled in Connecticut. After graduating from Yale, he got to work inventing and didn’t stop until his death. 

Among his first inventions were a self-focusing camera and color x-ray machine. Not limiting himself to inventions for one industry, he developed new products and tools for use in different fields, including the military. He also invented an indoor practice machine for golf, as well as an exercise bike. 

His most famous invention, the ATM, was literally ahead of its time. Despite its ubiquity today, when Simjian first invented it Citigroup did a trial but realized that it was not being widely used, so plans to install more were scrapped. It was only much later that the machine would become an indispensable tool for the banking industry. 

Indicative of Simjian’s providence, he also invented a machine called the Bankograph, which could accept cash and check deposits at any time of day.

Interesting fact

Simjian’s work on the color x-ray device was featured in a Time magazine story in 1934.

Learn more about him

Luther Simjian obituary - New York Times

Luther Simjian biography - Engineering and Technology History Wiki (ETHW)