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The Daily Goodbye

John Shepherd-Barron, 84, a Scotsman who invented the first ATM after being locked out of his bank, died May 15.

The first automated teller machine showed up at a branch of Barclays Bank in north London in 1967. Since plastic debit cards didn't yet exist, Mr. Shepherd-Barron's machine used paper checks impregnated with a radioactive element called carbon-14. The user inserted the check into the machine and then typed a four-digit PIN number.

(Originally, Mr. Shepherd-Barron thought the PIN number would be six digits long, but his wife convinced him that was too many numbers to remember.)

Mr. Shepherd-Barron never patented his invention. Says a Scottish newspaper:

"He later invented a came up with the idea for a device that transmits the sound of a killer whale in order to repel seals from salmon farms, Something went wrong, however, and it ended up attracting the hungry creatures."

Robert J. Serling, 92, an aviation writers for United Press International and the author of the best-selling novel "The President's Plane Is Missing," died May 6 in Tucson. He was the brother of "Twilight Zone" creator Rod Serling.

And Moshe Greenberg, 81, an influential Jewish biblical scholar, died May 15 in Jerusalem. His appointment to teach at the University of Pennsylvania in 1954 was something of a breakthrough in biblical studies -- previously, it was thought that only Christians could objectively study the Bible.

By Emma Brown  |  May 20, 2010; 10:26 AM ET
Categories:  The Daily Goodbye  | Tags: atm inventor died, john shepherd-barron died, moshe greenberg biblical scholar died, moshe greenberg died, moshe greenberg dies, robert j. serling died, robert j. serling dies  
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