L to R: Dr. Spencer Crew, Director, National Museum of
American History; Mr. Don Wetzel, co-patentee of the Automatic
Teller Machine, and G. Henry Mundt III, President and Chief
Executive Officer, Mastercard Cirrus. They are standing with an early NCR ATM at the presentation of the artifact to the Smithsonian Institution. Cirrus coordinated the donation of
the object by Keycorp of Dayton, Ohio, and
provided funding for the video history and transcription
documenting Mr. Wetzel's involvement in the creation of the ATM.
David: Let's start with some of your upbringing and your background. Won't you tell me a little bit about your history before you got into the business of developing this kind of equipment.
Don: I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana and I attended grade school, high school and college there. I graduated from the University of Loyola in New Orleans in 1951 with a Bachelor's degree in foreign trade. While I was going to college I played professional baseball for three years with the New York Giants farm system. Then upon graduation I started working for IBM.
David: Let me stop you there a bit -- international trade and baseball is kind of an unusual combination. (Wetzel laughs) What was your real hope for your career coming out of school?
Don: Well, I really wanted to be a professional baseball player for a long time, but I realized, after three years, I was not going to make the major leagues. A friend of mine who'd played in the major leagues for quite a few years told me that "if you're not in the majors by five years, your best shot is to get out." And it just happened when I graduated in '51 I was offered this job with IBM and I took it.
Now the reason I majored in foreign trade, quite frankly, was because I had to go to school another semester to get a Business degree, so I doubled up on a couple of hours and I graduated a semester early with a degree in foreign trade -- never intending to be in foreign trade.
David: What position did you play, to finish the rest of the baseball story?
Don: I was a shortstop, of all things. Well, naturally, you'd think I would be, right? (they laugh) It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed that immensely, it was quite an education.
David: I was going to ask you what you learned on that circuit that may have influenced you later on in some of the other things that you did.
Don: I think I learned two things. One was I met a lot of people that I would never have met and was able to interact with them. So I learned about that -- a lot about people, and how they feel, and how they react under situations that sometimes are a little pressing and trying. The other thing I learned was how to live away from home. You know that's an education in itself, and of course I'd always lived at home. So those two things I think helped me greatly in my business and personal life later.
David: So the switch from a professional ball team to IBM is a real cultural change. Tell me how you got recruited for IBM and what it was like to join that company.
Don: Well, the dean of our business school at Loyola, whom I got to know fairly well, recruited, in a sense, for IBM, and he knew a lot of people at IBM and he helped me get the interview at IBM, and from there I was able to get the job, with his recommendation, I'm sure. So that made it easier for me. And that's really the reason I went to work for IBM. It turned out, I think, it was a good decision on my part and I hope it was for them also.
David: What was your position when you started with them?
Don: Well, at that time IBM had a subsidiary called The Service Bureau Corporation, and what we did was we processed applications such as payroll, accounts receivable, sales analyses, things like that, on our machines at IBM because these particular businesses did not have IBM machines. So my responsibility when I started was to be just a machine operator. I processed those punch cards, which we don't see much anymore. Long hours, but it was a good experience too. Then I moved to supervisor and then eventually became the branch manager in Fort Worth, Texas.
David: This was all in Texas?
Don: No, I started in New Orleans, and I stayed there five years, at which time they offered me the manager's job in Fort Worth and I went over there as manager.
David: What kind of IBM equipment did you use, do you remember?
Don: Yes -- it was all punch card equipment. No computers at that point in time, so it was a matter of key-punching the cards from the source data, sorting them, arranging them in some sort of sequence and then running them through an accounting machine which printed the reports. Then we'd re-sort the cards and run a different kind of report by running them through the machines again.
David: A lot of people think that after the war computers were everywhere, but this is a good example of how long the punch card business remained viable.
Don: That's right. I don't remember the year the first computer came out but I know it was after 1955.
David: So your customers were banks primarily? Other organizations?
Don: No, at that time it could have been anybody. We did work for stevedores out on the riverfront, sugar companies; it could have been anybody. As the IBM salesmen went out to try and sell machines, they ran across situations where it was obvious that this particular prospect was not going to buy a machine. Then they tried to sell them "well, let us do some of your applications." And it was a natural flow because sooner or later if they stayed with the Service Bureau Corporation they'd find it was better to get their own machines, so it worked good for IBM both ways.
David: A lot has been written about the IBM culture and what kind of company it was. How was it for you working in IBM? How did you find the company and the people that worked in it?
Don: I was very pleased to be working for IBM. IBM was a company that treated its employees extremely well, paid us very well, expected good things from us, and if you didn't produce properly, IBM found a way either to get you to do it or they asked you to leave. In my personal opinion, I think that's good. IBM also stressed education. We went to schools on a regular basis every year. They taught responsibility and rewarded you for what you did. They also acknowledged what you didn't do. So it was a great experience. It helped me later on in my business career after I left IBM.
David: What was that?
Don: Well, I guess I was result-oriented as a result of working for IBM. I also understood that you had to treat people properly, you had to expect things from them, and you rewarded them for those things. I'd say I learned that more from IBM than from any other place.
David: When you were originally in Texas and supervised an operation in IBM, tell us a little bit about the kind of position.
Don: Well, I was manager of the Service Bureau, so we did the same thing that we did in New Orleans -- did jobs for companies which did not have IBM machines. In this particular case I was the manager, so I had people working for me who actually did the work that I used to do in New Orleans. I didn't run machines. My job was to recruit, work with the salesmen, make some sales calls, set up the jobs properly and write the procedures, and then have the work done.
David: Did you have any interest in the technical side of the business at that time? Were you thinking much about their machines or did you see them more as a business position in IBM?
Don: Well, I thought of it more as a business position in IBM, although I leaned toward the technical side. These machines that we're talking about were hardwired machines. There were no computers, so there was no software or anything like that. We took a wire from an exit impulse and brought it over to another hole which was an entry impulse, and that caused the machine to do certain things and I could do that. So I guess if there was a choice I was more technically inclined at that time as opposed to marketing. I was not interested in sales.
David: How did you see your career developing? Did you expect to stay at IBM? Were you looking around, or -- ?
Don: No, I really expected to retire at IBM. IBM had a lot of opportunities in different areas, even in the technical side that I was interested in. As a matter of fact, after I stayed one year in Fort Worth, they offered me a job as manager in Denver of the Service Bureau, which was a bigger operation than the one in Forth Worth. So I had a career path that I was very happy with.
David: Then what happened?
Don: Well, the only problem with the Service Bureau was that we worked long, long hours, many, many weekends, and we were on call any time there was a need for something. Like, we used to tabulate votes in local or state elections and that was all night long and on weekends as well. I had done this seven years now. I was really getting burned out. When they offered me the position as manager in Denver, I told them that I really didn't want that and I would hope they'd find something else for me. I really wanted to get out of the Service Bureau.
What they found for me was I guess really a turning point in my business career. They found me a position as a "systems engineer," they called it then, in San Antonio. So I moved my family down to San Antonio and I became, I guess you'd call it a "sales support" type person. I did a lot of preliminary work. The salesman would sell the customer the IBM hardware for certain applications and I would have to go in and then write procedures. Early on, when we didn't have the computers it was my responsibility to make sure we had all the control panels wired properly, test the reports, and train the personnel. Then I got into programing when the computers came out.
David: So it sounds like your career did take significant more technical turns.
Don: Well, it was more technical. However, it did expose me more to the customer element, because I was out with the salesmen calling on prospects, in many cases working mostly with customers. It was at that point in time that I got a feel for what it was like to be a salesman. As time went on that began to appeal to me more and more and more. And eventually, in 1958, I transferred into sales. Still with IBM, in San Antonio.
David: Did they make that easier for you?
Don: Oh yes, very easy. I had no problems. As I said, IBM sent you to schools, to sales schools, they sent you to systems schools. So before you hit the streets with a briefcase, they tried to prepare you very well, and I think in most cases they did.
David: So, who were your customers at this time?
Don: Well, back in those years an IBM salesman had a geographic territory, so any company that happened to fall within those boundaries was your prospect and your customer. I had customers like the Public Utility Service of San Antonio. I had banks, insurance companies, a motor freight company. So I kind of ran the gamut because they just happened to be right in my geographic territory boundaries.
David: And what kind of equipment were you selling?
Don: The punch card equipment at that time, because that's really all we had to sell. Computers still had not come out. They were just now being talked about. I guess they had some, the factory. In 1959, I think it was, IBM went to specialized industry territories, and I was picked to be the sales representative for the banking community in San Antonio. So I had all the banks, all the credit unions, all the savings and loan institutions. And I did that for a couple of years in San Antonio.
David: What would you say were the biggest problems you were working to solve in that community?
Don: Well, most of it, I guess, was trying to get them more efficiency and get them off of the manual handling of data, because they were not getting the reports and information that they needed in a timely fashion to run their company or business better. So we were trying to provide them with the means to do those things.
David: Did they seem to be receptive? Were they skeptical? Did they differ in terms of demand or -- ?
Don: Well, the banks were probably the harder to sell than the other companies but in most cases it turned out to be a matter of economics. The equipment was not cheap, although it did an awful lot of things for them. In the final analysis they had to equate the cost to the benefits. The banks, going back to this particular time and before, were very, very conservative in their operations. They thought if they needed something, they just brought in more people and simply by more grunt and groaning they obtained whatever they wanted at some point in time.
The other problem we had with financial institutions is that the accounts were not numbered, and of course all of this equipment even today works off a customer number. And it was very difficult to get the banks to number the accounts. That was the hardest thing we had to sell in order to automate anything, because everything was done alphabetically by name. So we first had to sell them on the idea of putting an account number to a customer name, and then we'd address getting them to buy the equipment.
David: Seems almost inconceivable to us today not having an account number, doesn't it.
David: Just why did you have that resistance?
Don: Because they did it that way all the time. The phrase you used to always hear was "our customer is not a number to us, it's a name."
David: So they felt like they might lose that personal touch.
Don: Right. And of course later on, you know, this was what we heard with the ATM -- "we want to see our customers, we want to be able to talk to 'em, we know our customers, so we don't want them using this machine. We want 'em to come into the bank."
David: So what was it like being the IBM representative?
Don: Well, in 1960, after I had worked with the banks for a couple of years as a salesman, IBM had a position called "special representative" in various industries, so I was promoted to special industry in banking for our district. I assisted the salesmen in the various offices in Texas, northern Louisiana, and New Mexico, trying to work with the salesmen to facilitate the sale to the bank in that particular area. I did that for three years. It required a lot of travel but it was stimulating because these were dynamic times in the banking industry. Computers now had really come out. The bankers realized, well yes, we have to move forward and we are going to number our accounts and it looks like these computers will help us greatly. So it was exciting; those were exciting years.
David: So this must have been the 1401 era at IBM?
Don: Exactly. The 650, the 305 RAMAC, and then the 1401. The first computer that I ever sold to a bank was a 1401.
David: What do you remember about that?
Don: (laughing) Easiest sale I ever made. I had a call from a bank -- it wasn't hard work, he called me, asked me to come over. I met with the president of the bank and he said, "I've been hearing about computers and this friend of mine in another city has one and he thinks it's the greatest thing the bank did. I want one. Just write me out a contract and let's get on with it." I've never had that happen since.
The 1401 that I sold, and all the computers back in those days, were very special pieces of equipment. They were large, they required special air-conditioning, humidity control, false flooring so you could run wires underneath. If you compared that to a PC today, the PC is more powerful than a 1401 was.
David: You were a special representative for the banking industry. How long did that last?
Don: As a special representative I was in it for three years, and then in 1963 I was promoted to one of the managers in Houston, Texas. Under my responsibility I had five industries. It was called FICUT: Financial, Insurance, Communications, Utilities and Transportation. So I had salesmen and systems people who called on those types of accounts and I was their manager.
I stayed there five years as manager, at which time IBM asked me to transfer to headquarters in Armonk, New York. I really didn't want to go. It was going to be a staff job. In Houston it was right on the firing line, which I enjoyed a lot more. I'd already had a staff job, that was the special representative job, so I knew what that was like and I really didn't think I needed any more of that kind of training. And besides, I didn't really want to go to headquarters. Once you got up there you didn't know what was going to happen to your career after that.
So I asked them if I could stay in Houston. After a short period of time they said, "Nah, you really need to move on. We have people coming along, you need to move on and get some more of this staff training." Well, I had moved five times in the last 12 years and I decided that I just wasn't going to do this one. So they said, well, OK, "then what we'll do is, we'll give you a specialized territory in Houston and you can be a salesman again."
And that wasn't bad. Looking back now, that probably was a very good job. But I didn't take it. I had an offer from a friend of mine who was a former IBMer to go to work for a company called Docutel and I took it as Vice President of Product Planning. I moved from Houston to Dallas. That was in 1968.
David: Before we got off this, you had been in a mid-level position. This was a boom time for IBM from sort of a mid-personnel or mid-level position, talked some about your early training and things of that sort. This was a boom time for IBM. What was it like to be in a company that was growing through the early days of the computer era? Was business just booming or did you have some significant problems in getting computer-based acceptance in all these industry sectors? Do you at this point sort out a lot of different things?
Don: Well, I was in Houston at this time and that was the time that the Johnson Space Center was moving into Houston. A lot of satellite industry was moving in as well. A lot of people were moving in. So all industry was growing. Houston was a gold mine -- these computers were coming in, everybody was involved with the idea, the businesses were there, and business was booming. I guess our biggest problem was trying to get the equipment in faster. We had delivery schedules as long as 30 months. After somebody placed an order, our quotation was "you get it in 30 months."
So we really didn't have any major problem. As I said, it was a gold mine. We were making excellent money, getting a lot of business. I happened to be in the right place at the right time. A lot of this was going on in other cities as well but not all cities. So I was in good shape down there. I liked Houston, I liked my job, I liked the money I was making, and I just wanted to stay there. I was very happy. But IBM at that time was growing at a tremendously rapid rate. They were hiring a lot of people and as I said earlier they loved to train you and move you and see you move up in the company. And that was the reason for my prior moves, you know -- everything was always better, more responsibility. And that's why they wanted me to go to headquarters.
David: I've actually met a lot of people who were on the IBM path for a while and then stepped off for a variety of reasons. Was there a lot of resistance in part of the company to their notion of what it took to develop people, or were you unusual when you had to make that decision?
Don: I think most of the people who left IBM left because they were the best people in IBM, and other companies were looking for that type of person. They weren't unhappy, they were getting offers that were just tremendous, and so they were taking them. A lot of them were big-management jobs, a lot more money, more responsibility, and they were the cream of the crop in IBM. Those were the ones that were leaving but it wasn't because they were unhappy. And I wasn't unhappy at all, I was very happy when I left.
Don: I spent a lot of time with the operating people as opposed to the executives, although I did talk to executives too. I talked, however, to many more of the operating people. I just thought their input was more finite and I could grab hold of some idea and run with it. At that time there was such an allegiance to whomever they bought their hardware from. At that time we basically had three major manufacturers selling computers, and they were IBM, NCR and Burroughs. Whatever those companies recommended, that's what they were buying. You have to remember also that any foreign terminal that was going to work on this computer of theirs, that was anathema at that time. And the major manufacturers' salesmen didn't help the situation at all because they were selling their own terminals. So it was not an easy task to get any help.
David: Well, you're sitting in this line and come up with the idea. What about this, then?
Don: Well, the idea came into my mind very quickly. I went back to our people at Docutel and told them what was going on and I thought that we could build a machine that would perform at least 90 percent, perhaps more than 90 percent, of all the transactions processed by a teller.
David: Did you sketch this out? Did you do it all verbally?
Don: It was verbally. Every week we would have a committee meeting, if you will. We didn't have many people at the company in my division at that time, so it was just a few of us --- the president, the executive vice president and myself. We had a v.p. that was in charge of manufacturing who was formerly with Texas Instruments and would also be in charge of manufacturing this terminal. We talked about, well, what happened last week? "You went out to such and such a place, and you talked to so-and-so, come up with anything?"
We did this weekly. Finally I suggested the idea of this machine that would do most of the work of a teller. In Docutel it was well received. I don't mean people were jumping up and down saying, "Yea, we finally got a terminal" but at least they were willing to sit down and study it further. So we had a lot more work to do to determine whether it's worth proceeding with or not. I mean, we weren't close to designing anything or building anything, we were talking functions. Then we had to determine what the economics were. How many of these machines could we sell if it was any good at all? So we had to look at the marketplace and determine the potentiality of the machine. And then any other things that might crop up as we got into building it. So we made a feasibility study. We looked at the number of banks, the number of S&Ls in the country, the number of branches.
At that point in time we never even thought of having off-premise ATMs as we see them today, you know, in shopping centers and supermarkets, universities, places like that. We were talking machines strictly located on bank premises. We didn't even feel that we would have one in every branch. We thought we'd get some key branches and the home office. But even then, the potential was very large and remember nobody else had a machine like this at this point in time. We determined that if we were the first ones out there, with the potential that the market presented, we would have a good product line for at least five years.
David: By experience you mean that you approached this, as you describe it, really from a functional perspective and not from a technical perspective at all. Do I understand that correctly?
Don: That's correct.
David: That you sat down with your planners and looked at the market structure, the functionality. At what point did you begin looking at technical issues? When did that part of the discussion come in?
Don: Once we determined that the marketplace was large enough to warrant us getting into that market with this machine, then we got down to "well, what kind of machine should this be, and how will it work?" And that posed several problems for us.
In those years there was very little on-line to the host computer; almost none, because those computers were used in a back-office environment. There were no such things as teller terminals and things like that as we know them today. So it was going to be an off-line machine. We determined that because we could not get them on line. Software wasn't there or anything like that, and the banks were not interested. They were, you know, literally up to their ears just converting from the old hand systems to the computerized version.
So it was going to be an off-line -- yes, this is the process of deduction, I guess: if you can't do it, then you do it another way. It was going to be an off-line machine. Knowing that, we had to build into it the necessary security because we weren't checking balances to see if you had the money in the account. Not only was it a technical problem to overcome, it was a problem in the minds of the banker to issue a card to somebody and not know whether he had the money in his account or not.
But we thought we could get around that particular aspect of things. Then we faced the problem of what is going to be the activating device for this machine? When we were at this stage in late '68 and early '69, credit cards had started to come out, and these were just credit cards -- there were no magnetic stripes or anything like that.
We needed to store some data on this card in order for the ATM to do the functions that we wanted it to do. Data such as account number, checking account number, savings account number, credit card account number, the bank's routing and transit number because we had to identify the bank. We had to put a limit on the amount of money they could get out of the ATM. Since we didn't know how much they could get, we translated that into the number of times they could use the card per day, and at that juncture the machines only dispensed a certain amount of money. So if you had the opportunity of using it three times and it gave out $50, you had $150 a day. We had to have the ability not only to read that stripe but then we had to update that stripe to record the number of times it was used.
We also felt very firmly that people could decode the information on a stripe if it were not encrypted in some form. Fortunately, we had an engineer at Docutel that had worked for the government at one time and he happened to be in the right place and knew quite a bit about encryption. But I'm getting a little bit ahead of the game.
At that point in time, we couldn't find a credit card producer who could put a magnetic stripe on a plastic card that would work in our machine. There was a hot-stamp process which as heat was applied to the stripe, it bent the stripe in the card. So we had a little bend and as we encoded it, then we couldn't read it. We had a heck of a problem finding somebody who could produce, especially in volume, a card that would work, and that almost became a calamity.
We had a machine, and if you just hand-made some plastic cards, the machine would work, but if you went to a manufacturer and asked him to run off 5,000 cards for you, most of them didn't work.
David: You got this idea in late '68, you did your marketing surveys, determined the potential here, and then you began developing a prototype in-house with your engineers?
Don: We did one thing before we started a prototype. There was one other issue that we thought had to be resolved: if we built this machine and the banks were interested in buying it, would the banks' customers use it? Because people, up until this time, had never interfaced directly with a piece of hardware, especially one that dealt with their money. So we took those students who were getting a Master's degree at the University of Dallas and asked the department there if they would make this a part of the program. They would make a national study to determine, or help us determine, whether people would use the machine, what kinds of people would use it, its demographics, age, females, etc. etc. They came back with a report that basically said most people would use it, some won't. It turned out that younger people were more likely to use it and the older people probably would not.
These were the years when consumer banking was really running rampant. Banks were converting from commercial banks to retail banks, so they wanted to offer something to younger people, especially the younger people because they were reaching that age beyond college, starting their first job, and banks wanted them as customers. They felt like "we have to offer some services that we haven't been offering." So this went hand in glove with the ATM -- it helped the bank serve its customers, it would attract those younger customers that they wanted; because once you've got a customer through one reason, then cross-selling got him into savings accounts and credit cards and a loan if he needed it -- all those things happen. So they were really trying to attract new business.
That study told us that there were enough people out there that would use the ATMs. And that's when we really got into the details of the plastic card. We were "going" now. We'd made a decision that this is what we ought to do. The only thing we had to do along the way was to convince the board of directors of Recognition Equipment, our parent company, that this was the product that Docutel ought to market.
So we prepared the usual things you do when you give a presentation. As I recall, there was only one gentleman on the board who objected strongly to this particular product. The rest said, "You know, it seems to make some sense. There's risk here but let's go ahead and try it." And it was ironic that the one gentleman who opposed it happened to be the banker on the board. We proceeded to build the prototype while we were looking for that manufacturer of the plastic card.
David: Do you recall about when the board made that decision?
Don: I'd say very late '68 or early '69.
David: What were you asking them for -- investment capital? Or was this software capital? Recognition Equipment capital? You were going for outside investors? Where would you --
Don: No. REI would go out to the community of bankers where they got their money and get the funding for this program. We were talking about $4 million to develop the ATM.
David: That was substantial.
Don: Yes it was. It was a risky thing they decided upon. We thought we backed it up with our studies. We did a lot of homework, we really did. But the mentality of people at that time was, remember, "we want to deal face-to-face with people. People are not going to walk up to a machine and use it. In fact we don't want them to do that, we want them coming to the bank and talking to us, because then we can sell them on some other things."
The truth of the matter is, that statement really wasn't true. The tellers never cross-sold to anybody. Their mentality was: "You have a check, I'm going to give you some money, and I hope you go away. And that way, if you move fast, I'll get to the next person and everybody will be happy."
David: So the data you got from your marketing study was that consumers want speed and convenience, not personal attention ....................,
Don: That's true. The customers did not agree with the bankers. The bankers always said, "Our customers, they know Susie, they've known her for a long time, and they feel very comfortable coming in and talking to her. And Susie likes to talk to them." Neither was true. Susie didn't know the customer. I didn't know my teller. I didn't go to the same teller, especially if this line over here was shorter. I went over there and I couldn't have cared less who the teller was.
So their thinking was not on target. And once we got past the hurdle of convincing our own people that people would use this machine because of the convenience factor, then we were able to move forward as fast as we could.
David: What other issue did you face then, looking towards development?
Don: Well, once we had approval to go ahead, then we really didn't have any major issues at that time except to go ahead and build this machine and make it work. In the machine there were, I would say, three major components besides the physical security of the unit. We had to develop a card reader that would read this card. We had to develop a dispensing unit that would dispense the dollar bills. And we had to develop a printer that would print the transaction, give a copy to the customer, and a copy retained in the machine to be processed in the back office as they did a check -- that's how the account was debited.
We had to develop those components. There were card-readers out there that we found, rather quickly, that if we had a card that was manufactured properly, it could be read very reliably. It was the mechanical things that gave us the most problems. If we had problems at all, they came from the dispensing unit and the printer. We had to get a dispensing unit that would dispense only one bill at a time -- we didn't want a double feed because people got more money than they were supposed to and we didn't want one that would jam the money. Those were the two areas that gave us the most trouble as we developed this dispensing unit.
We determined that we either had to have new or near-new money, fairly crisp money, to have it perform properly almost all the time. And we had to go through several iterations of that in order to get one that we felt comfortable with. And we did. In fact, that was Tom Barnes's task. He was the mechanical engineer who appears on the patent.
David: We were beginning to describe the way the development team that you put together worked and some of the people and what they did. And some of the technical problems that you had --
Don: Well, while we were working on the cash dispenser, to make it perform properly, the other task -- and the two were going on simultaneously -- was developing a printer, because we had to record the transaction. So we picked up the appropriate account number off the magnetic strip and then we had to record the amount that the customer had received, the routing and transit number of the bank, date, etc. Besides which we had the additional task -- and this is what made the printer a little difficult -- of printing that receipt in MICR so it could be read by the automated equipment in the back office. That made developing the printer a little more complicated. It wasn't just printing a roll of numbers representing account number, etc. of the bank. The MICR capability had to be embodied into the printer.
And we had to work on that and get it to work properly, because that was the key to recording the transaction for the bank. If anything went wrong with the printer, then the bank would not know who got that money. So that had to be extremely accurate, and that took a lot of work. I guess I'd have to say, if we had a problem that had to be solved in the early months of the first machines being installed, it came from the printer. The rest of the machine worked very well. We didn't have a problem reading cards, and we didn't have a problem dispensing money, but occasionally there was a problem where the receipt did not show the proper account number -- it missed a digit or you couldn't read a digit or something like that. Of course that was solved and the machines worked very well after that.
David: But you didn't consider going into any kind of an electronic solution because you couldn't work off the network? I mean, you must have seen that might be a solution for the future. Did you at that time?
Don: Oh we really did. Sure. We knew that eventually this particular terminal, the ATM and any others that were out there, and certainly they would be a teller terminal if you went into the bank, there would be a terminal eventually that would be on line to the computers. So we knew that was going to happen in time, but you have to sell what you have at a given point in time, and this was not available. I mean, it was not even considered by anybody at that point in time. Ours was an off-line machine, and we knew it was going to be that way for several years ahead. Once we went on line, then it became a piece of cake. Nobody overdrew their account because, as we know now, it checks your balance and if you do not have the money there you do not receive any cash.
We knew that we had to make these machines really work well, because the person had to receive the right amount of money, and the bank had to know who received it. And then you build all that into the fact that you had to have a plastic card with a magnetic stripe that worked. We had to come up with a method to encode the data on the stripe. See, at that point nobody had any machine available to do that. So we had to develop a little module.
We actually developed two products. We had a little module, with our little encryption codes in it, that we sent to the company that made the embossing machines, which also produced the plastic cards. Well, we had to have an extra station on those machines so that as the card went through and was embossed, it also encoded the magnetic stripe as well.
So we did that. And then we had a typewriter with the same little module in it that would actually encode the data on a card and then take it to a little manual embosser. If somebody came into the bank and said, "I lost my card" or "my card won't read well" or something of that nature, you could make one up right there in the bank lobby and give it to the customer. So there were two devices we had to come up with in order to solve those particular problems.
I guess those were the major concerns that we had to satisfy as far as the machine itself was concerned. We had a lot of discussions on the housing of the machine -- just how secure should this ATM be? We really didn't have a good handle on that. We talked to several consultants in the security business to get some help, and looking back now, I guess we went overboard.
We built a mechanical box that would have taken somebody eight hours with a blowtorch to cut through about a quarter of an inch. We had 5/8" stainless steel as the housing, which, looking back, we really didn't need but we thought very important at that point in time for the banker, who understood steel because he bought vault doors and safe deposit boxes and they were all this thick or thicker. So we felt it was very important that he feel very comfortable with with the security of the ATM. When he put his money in that machine and walked away and closed the door on Friday, he knew nobody was going to get into it and get his money.
So we did that, and everything fitted into the machine very nicely. We even went to the extent of putting heat sensors on the facia of the machines, because we knew we were going to be installing them in some cold areas. Of course, the first one was installed on Long Island but we installed them later in such places as New York and Minnesota. The heat sensors on the inside facia of the machine assured that when the temperature reached a certain degree, the metal heated up so that ice wouldn't harden on it and people could still use the machine.
A lot of little things went into the planning to make the machine functional, because this was sold as a seven-days-a-week, 24-hours-a-day machine, so it had to be usable; and when it wasn't, people became very irritated, because very quickly, early on, once a person used it once or twice, they really depended on that machine being there to get the money when they needed it. If it didn't work they got very mad!
David: When you loaded up the work team that you had at Docutel, how many people were on it? Was it all engineers or did you have marketing from the outside? What was the team that sort of took this idea for the decision to spend 48 hours and to apply what you began --
Don: Well, bear in mind, now: we were a very small company and a very small division within a very small company. So the president of course was very involved. We had an executive vice president who was very involved. There was myself -- this was when we were developing the ATM, before we were actually really starting marketing because once we started that we brought some more people on board. We had a vice president of manufacturing, and then we had two engineers who were assigned to this particular project: Tom Barnes, mechanical engineer, and George Chastain, the electrical engineer.
Then they had several support people, I couldn't tell you how many there were. They were the ones who, let's say, once an idea was developed, "let's try this type of arm on this dispenser." So I guess overall, David, we were thinking in terms of maybe 15 to 20 people on this.
David: What was the timetable for putting this first machine out?
Don: Well, I guess we really started developing the machine itself in probably January or February of '69. That was the prototype. We actually started out with a hardwired machine and we were having fits with it. We just couldn't get it to work. There were so many wires that if you just turned it a little bit, somewhere one came loose and then you spent the next day trying to find it. In fact, George Chastain, the engineer in charge, made the comment one day after being frustrated for many hours that "this darn thing wouldn't even make a good boat anchor." Well, mini-computers came out around that time, so we just discarded the wires completely and went to the mini-computer inside, and that saved our neck. Then we moved rapidly thereafter.
Another interesting story: while we were building the prototype I was making a few trips to call on the bankers to sell the concept and try and sell the machine. We knew "we've got to get one in, somewhere," and it was my philosophy that we did not want to give this machine away. We could have gotten the machine installed in a number of places if we just gave it to the bank. My objection to that was that just getting it in the wall of the bank was not a big problem. We had to get people to use it in order to convince the rest of the world that they liked it and that the banks ought to get more of them. And in order to do that, you had to promote it, and the bank had to spend some money doing that.
If they had no investment in this machine, I felt like they were not going to promote it properly. If they had an investment in the machine, then they would. I felt very strongly that the bank had to have an investment in this in order to promote it. The chairman of the board of REI felt very strongly that we should give the machine to one of the creditor banks that was lending company money. But I won out in the end, and actually we sold the machine for more money than we came out with it to the marketplace later on. The machine was installed at a Long Island branch of Chemical Bank in September of '69, and it worked well. We didn't have any major problems. A few minor ones, but that was OK.
Getting back to the story about the engineering: I had gone over to Atlanta to make a sales call on this bank, a very progressive bank; I thought they might be interested in this concept. They were. They thought it really sounded good. So I came back home, and the next day I had a phone call from the executive vice president of the bank who said, "We're getting on our bank airplane Monday morning, five of us, we want to come over and see this machine."
I thought, "Great!" So I told the engineers that you know this thing's got to be working on Monday morning. (he laughs) It's very important." When I got to the office early Monday morning, it was not working. This was a hardwired machine, by the way. This is the kind of thing we went through almost on a daily basis for a while. I told George Chastain that I would have them come into the conference room and I'd give them a little history of Docutel, a little history about the idea, the concept, automatic tellers, and so on. And then we'd go and get a demonstration. I left the door ajar a little bit and I said, "George, periodically you walk up and down that aisle and if the machine is down, do this [he points his thumb down], if it's up, then I'll know to break it off and we'll go in."
Well, I started out, I went through the course of our history and George came by about twice and gave me the old "down" signal. So I went around again; same thing again. Did this for about an hour and a half. Finally this executive vice president says, "I know more about Docutel now than you do. This machine isn't working, right?" I said, "That's right, it's not working." He said, "That's OK, let us look at it anyhow." I said, "OK."
So we went out into the lab and we showed them the machine. And they understood what we were doing and they could visually see that we were serious. We were going to build this machine. The only problem was, it wasn't working. And you know -- "the money came out here, you put the card in here, here's the dispenser" and all of that -- we showed them the guts of the machine. It never did work that day. They went back to Atlanta. In two days I received a phone call and they ordered five. Now, this was a very progressive bank. It's still around today and it's still a very progressive bank.
But those are the kinds of things we went through. Kind of nerve-wracking at times. You never knew what the end result was going to be. But we did get away from that hardwired machine. And we went to a mini-computer, what we know as computers today. That really solved our electronic problems.
David: Before we get into the installation on Long Island, let me just ask you about the patent.
Don: Well, the company filed in 1970 for the patent on the ATM and the patent, as I recall, was for a machine that dispensed money at the request of a person who had a plastic card with a properly encoded magnetic stripe or something like that. We reapplied. Apparently it wasn't worded properly or something was not clear. We had a lawyer at the company, by the way, and he reapplied in 1971. We found out, I guess it was about this time, that there was a company in California, I believe, who had produced on a very small scale a plastic card with a magnetic stripe. Docutel worked out something where their objection was satisfied, so the patent to Docutel was issued in 1973. But it was not a totally exclusive-type patent that you can get on some products. That's my understanding of it.
David: The way you told the story, you made the internal design, using existing technology for the pieces. Did you follow other people involved in doing something pretty similar that you drew on? Or did you mostly follow your own model?
Don: Well, you know the product that we developed was exactly that: we developed it. I don't know what the company did with the stripe out in California but it was a very minuscule type of thing. I feel like we developed the magnetic stripe on a plastic card. We didn't personally develop it, we pushed it on a plastic card manufacturer to develop it. So I would think that we were responsible for those stripes on plastic cards that we all see today. There were machines that gave out coins. You put a dollar in and it gave out coins. Ours was a little different but it was a dispensing mechanism, so there was nothing unique to that. A lot of printers were out there. Some very sophisticated ones, some not so sophisticated. We had to modify whatever was there to fit our needs. So I can't say that we went from nowhere to what we had, and we developed it all.
David: But you had a unique way of putting the pieces together.
David: Now, you talked some about the development -- as you began to look for customers for this technology, what was that process like? We talked earlier on just the marketing or the original development stage some of the resistance or concerns. How had you found that you had pieces and people began to come look at -- what was the general reaction to innovation that you guys were putting together?
Don: Well, it was mixed. We went out initially and talked to bankers that we knew. We had, like, this banker was on the board, and we had some other executives on the board from other companies and they knew bankers. The president of our company was an ex-IBMer. The executive vice president of REI was an ex-IBMer. So we used various contacts to go to those people first, and for the most part these were either senior operating people or they were executives, most of them, in the larger banks. These were our initial contacts. And that's how we got to meet the proper people at Chemical Bank.
Early on, I was the person who did that. We didn't have a marketing force at that point in time. We didn't have any salesmen, so I was the one that went out and perhaps you know the story. I had this cardboard mockup of the machine and I carried that on my lap on airplanes and went to New York and Atlanta and Minneapolis and San Francisco and all those kind of places, to actually show them what this machine was going to look like. We had little places on it where, you know, "here's the card reader and here's the keys where you key in your PIN number," et cetera.
So they could visualize just exactly what they would get if they ordered this machine. The reaction, as I said, was mixed. There were some who thought it was a crazy idea and some of the progressive-minded bankers who were really wanting to get into the retail business. They thought it might have merit. And those were the ones to whom we were saying, "Come on down to Dallas and we'll show this thing, we're not kidding, we're serious about it, we are building it, and we'd like to sell you some." That was the effort at that point in time.
David: Was the resistance along lines that earlier people were thinking of a personal service as opposed to a mechanized service? Or were there other types of reasons?
Don: There were basically two reasons. That was one, the other one was cost. You know, they were thinking in terms of -- a lot of them related this to a typewriter. "A typewriter only costs $600. You guys are talking $18,000? When I've got a row of tellers in here now doing the same thing? You know, I don't see why we ought to spend that kind of money." And of course that was just for the machine, you had to pay for maintenance and you had to install it, and it was very important -- and we stressed this very much -- that you really had to promote it. Just sticking it in the wall wouldn't cut it. We had designed posters that they could buy and use, we had a video that we would show to the tellers to train them as to what to tell the customers. We had mockups of the machine that we put in the lobby so that one of the customer personnel at the bank, as their customer came through the teller line, they would ask the person to come over to this new device. This was after they had bought some but hadn't installed them yet. They'd take them over there to the model and show them how it would work.
So there were some expenses involved in the promotion of this, and we had to make sure that they understood that. The thing that helped us the most eventually, I guess, was we came up with a sales tool that showed the institution basically that if they obtained x-number of new demand deposit customers and x-number of savings account customers, that would offset the cost of the machine, and not only offset the cost but make them money. And we would ask them, each individual bank, how much they netted off of a DDA account or savings account annually, and they gave us their numbers. Once they gave us those numbers, then it was a simple mathematical thing we had to go through that said if you get x-number of new accounts, here's how much money you're going to earn.
At that time they were really out to get those customers, and offering a service that the bank down the street didn't have helped us tremendously in the beginning. "Be the first! Get those machines in, you have something the other banks don't have, and all you need is x-number and you have a real winner." And that's why the majority of the early users bought. Then it was follow the leader. "If he's got it, then we better get it." So the next bank ordered it. That's the way the sales cycle went. And then at some point in time there was no analysis made. "We've got to have 'em, it doesn't mattter what the cost is, we have to have 'em because we're not going to keep our customers and we're not going to get any new ones."
David: Why Chemical Bank?
Don: Well, Chemical Bank was one of the banks that loaned money to REI, so the chairman of REI knew some key people there and he got me in the front door. That's how it all started. The people I talked with kind of liked the idea and they said, "Let's do it."
David: You installed it first in a lobby, was it also 24 hours or was it just --
Don: No, it wasn't in a lobby, it was actually in the wall of the bank, out on the street. They put a canopy over it to protect it from the rain and the weather of all sorts. Unfortunately they put the canopy too high and the rain came under it. (laughing) One time we had water in the machine and we had to do some extensive repairs. It was a walkup on the outside of the bank. That was the first one. And it was a cash dispenser only, not a full ATM.
David: I'm sure your engineers took on the line for a couple of months?
Don: Oh absolutely. We had them up there just standing by even when (he laughs) it was working. And we had to provide local service, so that's when we started to hire our own maintenance team. We started to hire salesmen about that time or slightly before. So now we're getting into the marketing/servicing/promotion. I remember the big ad that Chemical put in the Long Island News or whatever that paper is out there. "Our branch at such-and-such a location will open on September" -- I'm not sure of the date but I thought it was September 3 -- "will open its doors at 9 a.m. and never close again." That was a big full-page deal. And that's how they kicked off the program.
That gets back to the point I made earlier. You had to promote it in order to get people to use it. And a lot of people had to come in and ask for a card, I mean, they just didn't give cards to everybody, because at this point in time, you see, these were credit cards, we put stripes on a credit card. There were no ATM card or a debit card. So they picked the people that they wanted to use it. Remember, we're still off-line, so they wanted to give them to good customers, people that they felt comfortable with who wouldn't abuse the privilege.
David: What was the reaction to the machine in that community?
Don: Well, I'd have to say it was favorable because shortly thereafter the bank ordered some more. I think the bank was pleased and I think the customers were happy.
David: You don't remember any particular glitches ..... the canopy? Was that the worst problem you had --
Don: The worst problem we had, there was a driving rainstorm
and water came through a crack in the facia. We had a facia that was sort of angled and then a little shelf down below that went around, and for some reason water got through there -- it wasn't supposed to -- and it got down into the pan where the mini was and that destroyed the mini. We eventually had to replace it, but we were down for probably a couple of days. And that was not a good time to be down for two days, especially when you're talking about the bank opens at nine and (laughing) never closes again! But we fixed it, and the bank understood. This was the first machine. They knew that there were going to be some problems and we didn't know exactly what they were going to be, but for the most part the machine worked well and the customers started to use it. And as they saw it building up, I think that gave the bank confidence enough to expand the program.
And then the selling job becomes a lot easier when you have one installed and a banker can talk to another banker, not to the salesman who's saying all these neat things. He gets what he considers the really true story. And then that makes the next sale easier. From then on it started to move pretty good.
David: Did you stay within your $4 million or whatever the original stake was, or was it more expensive than you expected?
Don: I think we were very close to it. We may have exceeded it a little bit, maybe by about $5 million, something like that, but we were pretty much on target. We were watched very closely by REI. You know, at that time REI was a very sophisticated image-processing company, one of the leaders in the world as a matter of fact. So they had a pretty good idea what hardware should do and could do. They watched the dollars. So we had them looking over our shoulders on a regular basis. It was very important that we build this machine, deliver it on time, and make it work.
David: It looks like you were under a lot of pressure.
Don: (laughing) Well, you might say this was not the color of my hair then.
David: Do you remember it being real stressful or is it more exciting -- how do you remember that period?
Don: No, I remember it as exciting. I used to get frustrated because things didn't happen as fast as I wanted them to. As I recall we delayed delivery of the machine, like, 30 days, and that was upsetting, because obviously it was delayed because it wasn't working properly. That kind of thing for any marketing person is very disturbing. But for the most part it was more exciting than it was frustrating, because you could see the interest building. Even before the installation of the first machine, as I made my sales calls, just seeing these bankers say, "You know, that sounds pretty good, but I'd like to see one installed first." Or "Yeah, I'd like to come down to Dallas." We had a lot of people coming down to the plant to see this prototype.
And then once we got a few orders and started a production line, then it really became exciting. Because then we could take them over to the plant and we could say, "Now, if you ordered, this would be the machine that you would get, but you're not going to get this one over here, this is going to Chase Manhattan."
David: So you began to pick up orders pretty raidly out there, the original --
Don: Right. It really moved good. We had some who wanted to wait for what at that time we called "the total teller." We had a cash dispenser, and then the next version was going to be the total teller, which is the ATM we all know today -- takes deposits, transfers money from checking to savings, savings to checking, cash advances to your credit card, takes payments; things like that. So they didn't want just a cash dispenser alone.
David: And the so-called total teller, did you have an off-line version of that? Or did they have to be on-line?
Don: No, as a matter of fact it was off-line at first. Didn't have to be on-line, it was the same principle. The key to the security of the off-line, in my opinion, was this encryption that we did on the magnetic stripe. Every time the card was used, we manipulated the bits on the stripe, so they never went back in the same place they were before. And we had some coded bits that if they were in a certain location, that meant that Formula A was used in order to read it properly. If they were in another location after it was used, then Formula B was used. So that we made it very difficult for anyone to decode the data. I don't know of anybody who actually broke the code from copying cards and could just keep on using them and get money out. That was really a key to the success.
David: The whole security ....
Don: Right. Because we were off-line at the time. And the PIN was actually on the stripe, and the thought was, well, if somebody can decode the data on the stripe, then you had all the data you'd need and you could go make cards and just run them and run them and run them. Now, of course, the PIN is not on the stripe since we're on-line.
David: So I can envision how this began to unfold. What were your problems as you began to be began to be more successful?
Don: Well, our biggest problem was our success. The time that we had a financial crisis on our hands was when we had the largest back order we ever had. We just didn't have the cash to pay the bills because we had all these orders and we'd gone into production and bought all this equipment and supplies to build and meet the delivery schedules. And the cash wasn't there because you know what happens -- you do not get the money as soon as you get the orders; you get the money even after it's installed for a period of time. So I'd say that probably was our most severe problem at one point in time.
We had a marvelous vice president of manufacturing, he was very good -- he came from TI, as I said, and had a lot of experience. So we could get the machines out at a pretty rapid clip. The problem was more financial than it was anything else. Then we started to bring on people. We had regional offices in a number of sections of the country, with managers and salesmen and service personnel. So it really took off very well.
David: And you stayed with that for a while as you went forth from that early development?
Don: I had a personal setback in 1970. My wife died of cancer. I remarried in 1972. My wife then, who was also a widow, had eight children. When we got married we wound up with 12 children. And I was doing an awful lot of traveling. I traveled almost every week somewhere, and it seemed like every time I hit the road and called home, something had happened -- you know, so-and-so broke his finger, or the principal wants to meet with you next Monday; something like that. She was trying to run this household with 12 kids running around and they were all at home.
So I decided, in '73, that this was rather unfair and I really needed to stay home. So it was in '73 that I resigned from Docutel, and started my first company, called Financial Systems & Equipment.
David: An unusual decision for a man to make at that time.
Don: Well, it really was. Because we were at our heyday then, in '73. It was great. And I really enjoyed it, I really did. I didn't mind traveling, I really enjoyed selling, and it was exciting, a whole new idea, you know. I even traveled overseas, so I was having an awful lot of fun as well. But I realized that I just couldn't keep on doing that. So that's when I started the other company.
David: And you were able to resume your commitment to your family, then, with that decision.
David: That's very admirable. And how did the next company work out?
Don: Well, it started out slow. I made a decision at that time -- I was getting a little bit burned out with computers. What with IBM all those years, and then Docutel and going through those phases there, I decided that I was going to try something different. I would not sell anything that was computerized. And my background being around banks, I decided I would sell bank equipment but not computerized banking equipment.
I became a manufacturer's representative and I sold products like vault doors, safe deposit boxes, drive-up motor banks, and under-counter equipment, plain old vanilla stuff. You didn't have to be a mental giant, really, you just had to make a lot of sales calls and get in there and convince people your products were good. And that went well, it was a little slow at the beginning but later on it went well and the company was around for probably 18 years. While that was going on, I started a second company -- and this was about five years later, in 1978 -- called Electronic Banking Systems, with a former Docutel salesman. We did a lot of consulting work with companies and banks that were in the ATM business, so we got back into it again.
I believe we were the first company that put ATMs in supermarkets. We had devised a formula that we would buy the machines from the manufacturers, we would place them in supermarkets, and we would charge so much a transaction and the supermarkets would get so much. That's how we started working with the switching companies like Cirrus. That went very well, in fact so well that in 1984 we were bought by Docutel. (he laughs) So it all came back around in circles.
Docutel bought our company Electronic Banking systems and my partner and I went to work for Docutel. I had hired a president for Financial Systems and Equipment and we had all the people -- the sales and service and administrative personnel. Two companies were going on until we sold Electronic Banking Systems to Docutel and part of the deal was we had to go to work for Docutel, for a short period of time at least.
Before we sold Electronic Banking Systems, in 1979 I started a third company called Autosig Systems, Inc. That is a company, it still exists, that markets an electronic signature verification system that we sell to the financial community. I'm chairman of the board of that right now and it's still in existence. In 1989 I retired.
David: I have to say, it's an unusual person who'd quit the job, and then to have more time with his family, start three companies.
Don: (laughing) Well, I was home most of the time -- at least I was in Dallas most of the time.
David: You apparently were able to do this while keeping time for your family, or --
Don: Oh yeah, I did a little bit of travel, I wasn't home all the time and that probably helped our marriage somewhat. But I was home an awful lot more than I was when I traveled with Docutel, because with them I was gone, usually on a Monday morning and back on Friday. With the other companies I didn't do a whole lot of travel -- you know, when a salesman had a situation on his hands and you could parade in somebody who supposedly knows a lot, that's the kind of trip I would make. So it worked out very well, for me and my family, I think.
David: And did you enjoy the freedom of starting your own companies?
Don: It was exciting, it really was exciting. Of course I'd never done anything like that. I'd always worked for substantial companies, knew when the paycheck was going to come, it was going to be so much, would come on a certain day, -- great. But you know when you're working for yourself, you just don't know those things. So there was a certain amount of uncertainty involved in this. There were times when I was kind of nervous because I had a lot of responsibilities at home. But it all worked out well and the money has been good for me over the years.
David: And I would assume your earlier successes had given you some financial --
Don: Had a little bit of cushion -- and being a manufacturer's rep with the first company, I was able to work out some deals with them where they paid me up front for a period of time which let me get established. That worked out well and was very essential as it turned out to be. Because I tell everybody now, you work up your plan, your budget, and whatever you come up with, you triple your expenses and you halve your revenue and that's probably what's going to happen the first year.
David: Now, Don, you've seen American industry and the computer industry from a lot of different perspectives. You've been very successful. One of the things we're really interested in, and the Smithsonian is studying, is how innovation works in the government -- in particular, how young people are innovative in their perspectives and seeing what it's been like for other people.
If you were to talk to young people who want to go off and try something new, do something new, what would be your advice to them?
Don: I think, first of all, the pleasure you get out of trying something that is innovative and something that you thought of, is very exciting, and it can be very rewarding. Most of the time it is. Sometimes it's not but most of the time it is.
I also think that the climate, especially today, is very receptive to innovative thinking. The way we do business in the United States, the way corporations and people are receptive to new ideas now -- I think that's totally different from the way it used to be. The chances of success are much greater now than they used to be. You know, good ideas are always received well but nowadays I think, in our world, a person who would like to try something new ought to very definitely try it and get out there and do it. It takes hard work and it takes a lot of persistence but it really pays off most of the time.
David: Any secrets in terms of how to work -- it seems like you learned a lot about the use of your ideas before you went in for development --
Don: I think it's very important to do your homework. I've talked to a number of people who had ideas but they really hadn't done any homework. Yes, it's great to have a great idea but you have to know what the potential for that idea is. You also have to know how much money it is going to take to develop that idea. And if you don't do those things, you may come up with the best product in the world and nobody will ever buy it. So it's a waste of time and very discouraging.
David: Anything else that you think of we should report for the record here about this innovation and your role in it?
Don: I really think the future holds many great possibilities. I think the ATM was the first instance where a person had the opportunity to interface with a piece of machinery, and that allowed that person then to be comfortable with interfacing to other pieces that came out since then -- like PCs, as an example, and we all know the success of the PC. I think we're going to see much, much more of that happening in the future.
I think people nowadays and in the future are going to have the opportunity to not only come up with a lot of new products but also to be able to use those products in ways they never dreamed of. The future, without a doubt, is going to be more exciting than the past.
David: Do you have any concern about interfacing with equipment rather than people?
Don: I don't in the broad sense. Not at all. The only reservation I have is that when you have access to things that might be morally decaying, and I guess I'm referring directly to Internet right now. I believe that would be bad. I think in certain areas to some extent proper controls need to be there to make sure bad things don't happen as a result of interfacing with equipment.
David: Don, we want to thank you for your time and your willingness to talk to us. I think you've given a terrific record.
Don: It's been my pleasure, David, to be here and to be part of the Smithsonian and having the ATM here.
END OF INTERVIEW