Carnegie Mellon University

Tris Jahanian: Ambassador, Entrepreneur, Mother

October 24, 2018

Tris Jahanian: Ambassador, Entrepreneur, Mother

The next time you swipe your card at an ATM that isn't affiliated with your regular bank, think of Tris Jahanian. You're probably using her software.

Nearly 25 years ago, while working for what is now Fiserv, Inc., Jahanian patented the algorithms that allow banks to "talk" to each other during ATM transactions.

"The card accepting bank needs to know if you have enough money in your account before it gives you anything," Jahanian said. "I wrote software that allows financial institutions to communicate when you request cash from a machine or at checkout."

Tris and Farnam Jahanian met as college students in the early 1980s. Tris was an undergrad at the University of Texas at San Antonio; Farnam was in grad school 90 miles up Interstate 35 at the University of Texas at Austin. She was a software engineer. He was a computer scientist.

They started their life together after graduation, moving to New York when Farnam landed a job at IBM's TJ Watson research center.

Soon they would have three children: Dan, Thomas and Sara (a CMU senior majoring in statistics and data science).

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