Teller Machines – The Early Days.


Submitted by Don Hooper



The type of teller machine that was used when I started working with them in 1957 was very much like an adding machine.


There was a numbered keyboard with ten rows by seven rows of keys allowing for accepting of deposits up to $99,999.99 partially illustrated as follows:


    9    9    9    9    9    9    9

    8    8    8    8    8    8    8

    7    7    7    7    7    7    7

    6    6    6    6    6    6    6

    5    5    5    5    5    5    5

    4    4    4    4    4    4    4

    3    3    3    3    3    3    3

    2    2    2    2    2    2    2

    1    1    1    1    1    1    1

    0    0    0    0    0    0    0


A large key on the right hand side of the machine, when pressed, activated the machine and printed the receipt, or printed the Cash In or Cash Out Ticket.  By depressing the keys in each row as needed allowed for infinite variations of transaction amounts.  Early machines had a hand crank, but then electric machines were purchased and placed in our branch offices.  There was a very small lever above the keyboard which allowed you to print more than one receipt….each time you moved it forward, the machine would recycle and reprint the same transaction number and dollar amount represented by the depressed keys.


The machine utilized a large spool of carbonized paper.  The paper was in two parts, the top paper was blank, and on its back was carbon ink.  The second part was the tape on which each transaction was printed, and became a permanent record, which was retained in the teller envelope at the end of the day.  These spools had to be changed periodically as they were used up.  At the end of the roll a “red” banding began to appear to warn the teller of the need to replace the tape.  This usually took about a minute to pull the old tape and replace it with a fresh tape.  It always seemed to occur on the busiest Friday’s at the worst possible time.


Checks were cashed, stamped with the teller’s initial stamp, and placed in small container for pickup by the proof operator periodically during the business day.  Deposits to MNB Accounts were placed in one of the compartments, and deposits to other banks in another compartment.  Cash In and Cash Out tickets representing cash received / paid out over the counter were printed using the teller machine and placed with the deposit if cash was part of the transaction.  Cash In tickets were usually white and Cash Out Tickets were usually blue.    Savings deposits and Savings withdrawals were placed in the other compartments of the container.


The blank customer receipt, and the deposit ticket were placed in the upper portion of the teller machine so that the print heads would print a receipt and the same transaction information was printed on the deposit ticket.  This consisted of the date, transaction number (which changed with each deposit), the amount of the deposit, and the teller machine number.  The teller tape reflected this information for each transaction.  The date had to be changed each day of each machine.  This was done by the teller.


When the proof operator picked up the teller transactions they were microfilmed first, then processed through the proof operation.  This consisted of a twenty pocket proof machine located in the back of the branch, or in the basement if the branch had a basement.  The noise of the machine was pretty significant.


Tellers also accepted utility bills, telephone, gas, water, electricity, and the customer received one/half the bill stamped and the teller kept the other half or stub.  At the end of the day these were separated and an adding machine tape was run to determine the total for each class of bill payment.  We deducted from each utility bill the bank’s fee of $.05 or $.10 per bill accepted.


All transactions, which required a calculation, i.e., check to be cashed, less savings deposit and payment of two utility bills, was done on a scratch pad in pencil.





            166.25 paid to customer. 


Branches might have had one adding machine for the entire teller staff.  All scratch paper, adding machine tapes, teller machine tapes, were placed in the teller’s daily envelope.  This envelope was completed each day for each teller, and reflected the beginning cash on hand, the total of Cash In and Cash Out tickets, and the ending cash on hand balance.  Periodic surprise audits….cash counts…were conducted to insure that all the cash reflected on the envelope was in the teller’s cash box.  Overages and shortages had to be notated and entries processed each day to insure that tellers were always in balance.  If discrepancy was found in a cash count audit, it could lead to dismissal.

An Adding Machine  from the "early days."


Personal Money Orders and Cashier Checks were issued, and an embosser was used to impress the amount of the check on its face.  The payee, on Cashier Checks, was hand typed.  There was only one embosser for this purpose in the entire branch office.  Everybody had to leave the teller cage and walk (or run!) to the embosser every time a customer purchased a money order or cashier check.


Savings Bonds were issued in the same manner.  The owner and beneficiary were typed on the face of the bond.  Savings bonds were kept in a common box at the back of the teller line for everyone’s availability.  A log book was maintained to insure that all bonds were accounted for.  Traveler Checks were handled in a similar manner. 


When a savings customer wished to make a withdrawal, the teller would have to leave the teller cage, go to the area of the branch where the savings ledger cards were kept.  These accounts were in numerical order, i.e. 23-2005 (representing branch 23, account 2005), and the corresponding ledger card was pulled from its place in the drawer, the signature verified either with the one on the card, or from the signature card filed in the savings signature card file.  Once the balance was verified to determine that the savings account had more than the amount to be withdrawn, the ledger card was placed in the front of the ledger.  This allowed the savings bookkeeper to pull all withdrawals easily.  Savings deposits had to be pulled once all the savings deposit tickets had been sorted into number order.  The bookkeeper would then post the deposits and withdrawals to the cards using the Sensimatic posting machine.  These were posted by ledger, and balanced each day.  Some branches, particularly the oldest offices, had thousands of savings accounts, and a wide variety of numbering schemes.  The savings accounts were generally separated into what was called ledgers.  About 500 savings accounts would constitute a ledger.  The total of each of these groups of ledgers…there could be 40 or 50 ledgers….represented the total savings account balances for that particular office.  These ledgers had to be balanced on a monthly basis, by using an adding machine to run the individual balance on each card.  When totaled, this had to agree with that ledgers balance card.


Interest was hand calculated each quarter, penciled on the card, and then posted to the card by machine or by hand printing and adding the amount of interest to the account balance.  Interest calculation was an ongoing and continuous process throughout the year.


The entire collection of savings ledger cards was called the savings tub.  The container in which they were stored had a locked, sliding top.  When the top was opened and pushed to the back, the drawers containing the ledger cards were automatically raised to a higher level for easy access.  When the tub was locked at night, the top was pulled forward and the ledger cards then dropped to a lower level.  These tubs were supposed to be fire resistant, but thankfully not many were ever tested in a real fire.