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County Executive

Posted on: September 17, 2019

Curran honors 93-yo ATM inventor for 50th Anniv. of America’s first ATM which debuted in Nassau

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To Commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the U.S. ATM, First Installed in Rockville Centre,

County Executive Curran Honors Inventor Donald Wetzel for Revolutionizing the Banking Industry


ROCKVILLE CENTRE, NY (September 6, 2019) – To commemorate the 50th anniversary of America’s first “Automated Teller Machine” (ATM), Nassau County Executive Laura Curran joined Supervisor Laura Gillen, Rockville Centre Mayor Francis X. Murray, Chase executives and members of the Nassau County IDA to welcome ATM inventor Donald Wetzel back to Nassau County to proclaim the day in his honor. The event, co-sponsored by the IDA, took place at Chase Bank of Rockville Centre (formerly Chemical Bank of Rockville Centre) where America’s first ATM was installed 50 years ago. Other notable attendees included Senator Todd Kaminsky and Assemblywoman Judy Griffin.


Wetzel’s invention took approximately 11 months from conception to fruition, and the first “cash box” was unveiled in Nassau County on September 2, 1969. Wetzel, now 93 years-old, was on hand to accept the proclamation for his cash-dispensing machine that revolutionized the banking and finance industry.


“We’re celebrating several major 50th anniversaries this year including the Apollo 11 moon landing, Woodstock and the victories of Joe Namath’s Jets and the ‘Miracle Mets.’ Almost 50 years to the day after the first ATM was unveiled right here in Rockville Centre, I am thrilled to welcome back and honor the inventor Donald Wetzel and commemorate a financial revolution that happened in Nassau County,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. “This is another example of history being made in Nassau County - from the moon landing to earthly advances, Nassau continues to be a site for innovation.”


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“It was a pleasure and the honor of a lifetime to be recognized today by the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency and Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, as well as Chase Bank, for my invention 50 years ago. It’s been a privilege being back here in Rockville Centre for this special occasion, and I thank everyone who joined in this celebration of this milestone,” said Inventor Donald Wetzel.


“The ATM changed the way we think about banking and it’s amazing how far technology has advanced in five decades. Today Chase smart ATMS can do 70% of banking transactions, and it all started in Rockville Center. JPMorgan Chase is proud to support the Nassau County’s Industrial Development Agency and it’s continued economic development and job growth in the region,” said Lewis Warren, JPMorgan Chase, Managing Director Government Banking and Vice Chairman of Nassau County IDA.


“This is a fantastic event to recognize the efforts of Donald Wetzel for his invention that is now used all over the world. I am very proud that it debuted right here in Rockville Centre – I remember the day. I am glad to be part of this commemorative event with County Executive Laura Curran,” said Rockville Centre Mayor Francis X. Murray. 


Prior to the invention of the ATM, banks would close at 5PM, leaving long lines of people at closing time waiting to simply withdraw cash. With his invention, Wetzel created the 24-hour bank and expanded access to currency for billions of people worldwide without access to traditional banking infrastructure.


Donald Wetzel’s company, Docutel, was a Texas-based company that made automated baggage handling equipment before creating the ATM. Wetzel still co-owns the patent for the ATM, which is archived with the Smithsonian Museum. Today, there are some 3.5 million ATMs installed across the world.


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