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A bank or the original Starship Enterprise?

It’s commonplace today to say banks are technology companies. We bank on our phones, our accounts are in the Cloud, bank rivals are fintechs and bigtechs.


But it was just as true nearly half a century ago. The tech itself may have been bigger with more flashing lights, spools of tape and things that went beep but the purpose was the same: to make banking quicker, safer and more useful to customers – and staff.


Don’t believe me? Watch this clip from a 1986 video about ANZ computers found in our archives.



ANZ has long been a leading technology bank from the earliest days of commercial computing. In the 1950s it was “punch cards” – cardboard slips with holes “punched” in them to program the computer.


Due to the sheer volume of transactions being electronically processed, ANZ was an early adopter of the next iteration of punch cards - data entry machines that captured data onto magnetic tapes.


By the early 1960s ANZ had stopped using punch cards to store permanent data, however they were still being used to run some programs into the late 1970s. And tapes are still used today.


In 1965 ANZ's first official “computer” was installed at Toorak Road, South Yarra in Melbourne. The General Electric 225 cost of £334,000 and was referred to as EMANZA (Electronic Method of ANZ Accounting).


The 1980s brought computers to the main street. In 1982 ANZ launched Night & Day Bank, an automatic teller machine (ATM). It was initially open between 7am and 11pm and later became the first continuous 24-hour banking service in Australia.


ANZ even produced short documentaries – or maybe long for those of the TikTok generation – providing a slice of the history of computing technology in banking.


Computing was leaping ahead in the 1980s when these documentaries were made. And it was a genuinely exciting period for staff at the time – some of whom are still with ANZ today.


As one current staffer remembers: “A real blast from the past. I remember it was SO exciting to be able to obtain an account balance on screen, and without having to wait your turn for access to the daily status report print-out!”

And you try telling that to the young people of today…


Mark Coulston is a Technology Engineer at ANZ.


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