When most people think about vending machines history they do not realize just how far back it goes.
These are not a recent invention and can actually trace their roots back to 215 B.C when a Greek mathematician by the name of Hero invented a machine to dispense holy water for a price. This early vending machine actually was put into the temples in Egypt where patrons would pay to get their holy water. Austway Vending supply fully serviced vending machine in Perth. The way it worked was quite ingenious, once the coin was put in it rolled into a tray that caught it and this activated a lever. The lever then allowed for a measured amount of holy water to be poured. The coin would eventually slip off the tray causing the lever to reset itself and the water to stop until another coin was put in. Oddly despite this unique and useful invention it did not become commonly used. It seemed to go nowhere after its initial use. It disappeared until the late 1880s, and that’s where we can trace the true beginning of vending machines history as we know it today.
The first vending machine to spark the interest of the public appeared in Britain in the early 1880s and it was used to sell postcards. Around the same time, 1888, in the United States vending machines were built that sold gum. These were first placed on the platforms at train stations. Ten years later figures that moved were added to the machines to draw the attention of passersby. It worked well and increased the use of the machines by the public.
In 1902 a restaurant opened, and remained operating until 1962, that offered food only by vending machines. It obviously was successful if it was able to remain operating for sixty years.
Shortly after that, in 1907, machines were invented that dispensed gumballs. A very popular item, especially with kids, their machines not only gave those round gumballs, but they were coated with a candy flavoring and their popularity skyrocketed because of the easy availability. It did not take much longer before venders saw the advantages of selling by this means.
Everything that could be was put into vending machines starting with stamps, postcards and cigars. In 1920 soda pop vending machines began to appear and by 1926 the first cigarette dispensers were invented.
After that there was no stopping the possibilities of what could be put into a vending machine.
Manufactures and distributors saw the advantages of having machines that could sell their products seven days a week twenty four hours a day with only a minimum of maintenance. They realized that these retailing machines work every day, don’t take holidays or sick leave and they keep the products in front of the public at all times. They are never late and do not argue with their employers or fail to show up for work because of a hangover. The vending machine was here to stay!
As time passed more and more items were added to what could be sold through vending machines. It went beyond sandwiches, chocolate bars and packaged snacks to movies, ladies stockings and contraceptives.
The history of vending machines goes back a long way. Even discounting the early Holy Water machine, you’re still talking about over a century of popularity. A the future continues to hold increased possibilities.