The History Of The Vending Machine
You may be surprised to discover that the vending machine has its origins in ancient times. The conveniently located, easily accessible machines that have become a normal part of life (and much loved in many cases) date back to 215 BC. The Automatic Vending Association credits a Greek mathematician by the name of Hero as the inventor of the vending machine. Hero is said to have designed a machine to vend holy water in Egyptian temples.
The more familiar concept of coin-operated vending machines emerged in the 1880s as the first commercial versions came about in London, England, dispensing postcards. Around the same time, an English publisher and bookshop owner by the name of Richard Carlisle developed a vending machine that was used to sell books. The earliest introduction of vending machines to the United States (in the late 1800s) came via the Thomas Gum Company and was located on a subway platform in New York City. If you’re wondering what product was sold, well, it’s all in the name…Tutti-Frutti Gum.
Over time, vending machines became more common and had a wider variety of products, ranging from cigars to postcards to stamps. In the early 1920s, the first automatic vending machines started dispensing soft drinks into cups. Clearly, the market for easily accessible soft drinks has remained popular to this day as these are products most people associate with modern vending machines. In 1926, an American inventor by the name of William Rowe invented the cigarette vending machine. Again, this particular product remains a popular vending machine option to this day, admittedly with more controversy around this product these days.
It goes without saying that the reason for the vending machine’s popularity over the years is since it offers a novel way of selling. The introduction and normalisation of vending machines came about due to the use of coin operated machines and what was known as ‘coin-operated restaurants. The concept was first introduced in Philadelphia in the United States, known as the Horn and Hadard restaurant and served people for approximately 60 years! The concept originally came about in Germany, but this restaurant made the model more acceptable and practical for people throughout the world. This proved to be a game changer and the use of vending machines peaked significantly during this time.
Well, there you have it. The history of the vending machine in a nutshell. Who would have thought that something so practical and very much a part of everyday life had its origins in ancient times? This goes to show that you can’t keep a good idea under wraps. When the needs of the consumer are met in a fundamental way, there’s no stopping the popularity of such an innovative invention. The next time you find yourself using a vending machine for a soft drink, coffee, or chocolate bar, think about the amazing journey this invention has been through. Reflect on the transformation it has experienced over the ages and appreciate the convenience it provides. There is a very slim chance people would be rushing to a vending machine for some holy water in modern times, but the vending machine is here to stay because it provides us with a range of options, saves us time and continues to meet our consumer needs at the touch of a button.
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