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Haves Continue to Outnumber Have-Nots

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9.5 million people control approximately a quarter of the world's total wealth-nearly three times the U.S. GDP.

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The 11th annual World Wealth Report, by Merrill Lynch and the Capgemini Group was released on Wednesday.

According to the statistics, the combined wealth of the world's richest people rose more than 11%, for a total of $37.2 trillion last year-the first double-digit increase in seven years.

Broken down, that means there were 9.5 million people with at least $1 million in assets, excluding the value of their primary homes-up from 8.7 million people a year earlier.

These 9.5 million people control approximately a quarter of the world's total wealth-nearly three times the U.S. GDP.

Toddo has been discussing the haves and have-nots for a long time now.

Those with cash, lots of it or not, are intimately familiar with the ATM, which celebrated its 40th anniversary this week.

John Shepherd-Barron, a former executive with British printing firm De La Rue is credited with inventing the ATM in 1967.

He says the inspiration for the ATM came to him while taking a bath.

"It struck me there must be a way I could get my own money, anywhere in the world or the UK," he told the BBC. "I hit upon the idea of a chocolate bar dispenser, but replacing chocolate with cash."


John Shepherd-Barron

Shepherd-Barron struck a deal with Barclays to develop the machine over cocktails, and the first one was installed on June 27th, 1967, in Enfield, North London.

It dispensed a maximum of £10 at a time, and Reg Varney, from British sitcom "On the Buses" was the first to use it.


Reg Varney, the world's first ATM user

Since ATM cards had not yet been invented, checks impregnated with carbon 14, a mildly radioactive substance, were used.

The machine detected the carbon 14, then matched the check against a PIN number, which Shepherd-Barron's wife Caroline played a pivotal role in standardizing to four numbers.

"Over the kitchen table, she said she could only remember four figures, so because of her, four figures became the world standard," Shepherd-Barron says.


The corner where the first ATM stood

Today, there are more than 1.6 million cash machines worldwide, but Shepherd-Barron thinks cash's days are numbered:

"Money costs money to transport. I am therefore predicting the demise of cash within three to five years."

He believes that mobile phones will be used to conduct transactions, instead.


The new cash?

Although credited as the father of the ATM, some quick research shows that Shepherd-Barron was actually beaten to the punch by Luther George Simjian, who, in 1939, patented the Bankomatic automatic teller machine.



Simjian registered 20 patents related to the device and persuaded The First National City Bank of New York to give it a whirl.



After six months, the bank deemed the Bankomatic a failure.

"It seems the only people using the machines were a small number of prostitutes and gamblers who didn't want to deal with tellers face to face," wrote Simjian.


An early ATM devotee

According to the the Lemelson-MIT Program, which "recognizes outstanding inventors, encourages sustainable new solutions to real-world problems, and enables and inspires young people to pursue creative lives and careers through invention," Simjian was responsible for a device that was, in fact, extremely successful: the Range Estimation Trainer.

Using a miniature airplane, synchronized moving mirrors, and controlled lighting, the Range Estimation Trainer allowed U.S. Navy flight instructors to train aviators in identifying types of aircraft and determining their distance and speed.

Reflectone, sold more than 2000 of them.

Simjian remained President and Chairman of Reflectone for 22 years, until the company merged with the Universal Match Corporation in 1961.



It was sold again in 1996 to British Aerospace (BA.L).

Luther Simjian died in 1997.

But the ATM lives on.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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