In Praise Of The ATM

Hand of young woman inserting credit card into cash machine

Opinion editorial by WBZ NewsRadio political analyst Jon Keller

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — It’s been a year full of 50th anniversary commemorations, from the Moon landing to the Manson murders to Woodstock.

And as a card-carrying Baby Boomer who was influenced at a tender age by all of those events, I’ve been wallowing in all of it.

But here’s a significant milestone I missed – the 50th anniversary of the first automatic teller machines.

If you were born after the ATM takeover you may not realize what a hassle getting access to your money used to be.

If you couldn’t get to the bank before it closed at 4, you were out of luck until the next day. If you ran short on a weekend or holiday, you ate powdered chicken noodle soup mixed with hot water until the bank re-opened.

And the ATM was the prototype for the modern convenience craze, where all sorts of transactions that once involved people and effort are now effortlessly completed through technology.

There have been downsides to ATMs too.

They’ve been tied to some terrible crimes, debit card fraud is a serious problem, and getting stuck in a situation where you have to shell out a four-or-five dollar fee to use your ATM card is no fun.

Plus, the ready availability of ATMs makes overspending all too easy for too many.

But ATMs didn’t wind up costing us jobs – there are now more bank branches than ever where tellers find work. Automatic checkout scanners didn’t make cashiers obsolete either.

When I think about all the time I wasted waiting to get cash from a bank, I’m grateful for this product of 1969.

It doesn’t quite make up for the Manson Family, but nothing could.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday mornings at :55 minutes past the hour. Listen to his previous podcasts on iHeartRadio.

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Keller @ Large

Keller @ Large

Jon Keller is a WBZ TV & Radio political analyst. Read more

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