SciTech

Broken ATM turned into jukebox

Students looking to get money from the National City ATM in Baker Hall last Wednesday were surprised to find that the machine was playing music instead of dispensing cash.

The ATM's software had crashed and its screen displayed a Windows desktop instead of the usual banking program after it rebooted. Passing students fiddled with the machine, using it as Internet access and making it play music, among other things.

The band Midnight Spaghetti explained on its website how the situation unfolded. According to the site, the machine did not have the ATM software set to start automatically. As a result, anyone walking by was able to access all of the programs in the computer using the touch-screen interface.

Soon after the machine rebooted, Josh Atlas, a junior art major, set it to play an endless loop of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, "Highway Blues" by New Stories and "Like Humans Do" by David Byrne, the sample songs that are bundled with the Windows operating system. "[The machine] had Windows up, so we were looking for the Internet, and we found Windows Media Player and put it up," Atlas said.

Atlas said that he was going to get money to spend at the trucks, but realized that the machine was broken and that he could use the touch screen interface on the ATM to navigate Windows.

Though Internet Explorer, Adobe Reader, and other programs were open, they did not seem to be in use. The Midnight Spaghetti website explained that the lack of a keyboard on the machine made using programs difficult.

Later passersby set the ATM to display full-screen visualizations to accompany the music and taped a handwritten sign next to the ATM manufacturer's name that read, "Brand Media Player" so that the full text read "Diebold Brand Media Player."

Campus Police officers were notified about the ATM about three hours after the crash, and a National City maintenance crew showed up to fix the machine shortly thereafter. National City representatives did not return calls and Campus Police officers involved were unavailable for comment.

Students had mixed feelings about the incident. "I feel fine about [my money]," said Atlas. "Most of the computer was closed off; there wasn't much we could do." However, replying to a cmu.misc.market post about the incident, Terrence Wong, a senior CS major, wrote, "And yes, I will be switching banks."

The jukebox incident was not the only activity for the ATM last week; the machine was only installed the previous day. "The day before this, I had gone to the ATM for money, only to find that the front of the ATM was missing and the ATM was seemingly unattended," said physics junior Michael Crouch. "I assumed that they were doing maintenance; I was curious, but didn't stay to look at the innards, since I wasn't sure of the legal status of an abandoned open ATM."

The incident was particularly distressing to some people because Diebold makes the electronic voting machines that several U.S. jurisdictions have purchased for upcoming elections.