Ever wondered how those coin operated vending machines came about? You’d be surprise to know that those machines where you buy gumballs and collectible toys date back to the 1st century. The first historical evidence of a coin operated machine is found in the work of Hero of Alexandria, a 1st century engineer and mathematician. His machine dispensed a fixed amount of holy water when a coin is deposited. The coin fell upon a pan attached to a lever that opened up a valve, where water flow out. The pan tilt with the weight of the coin until it falls off, a counter-weight would snap the lever back up and shut off the valve.
It wasn’t until the Industrial Age when coin operated machines were really used widely. In the early 1880s, the first modern coin operated machines were introduced in London, England, dispensing post cards. In the United States, the first vending machine was built in 1888 by the Thomas Adams Gum Company. The machine sold gum on train platforms. In 1897, the idea of adding simple games to these machines as a further incentive to buy was initiated by Pulver Manufacturing Company. They added small figures that moved around whenever somebody bought gum from the machines. These advancements paved the way for the creation of pinball machines and slot machines.
In December 1970 of its Dallas convention, Ussery Industries of Dallas, Texas displayed its new “talking” vending machine, the Venda Talker. When a coin is inserted, the machine said “thank you” and added a one-liner voiced by coming Henny Youngman. The Venda Talker was featured on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show in March 1971.
Today’s machines can vend practically anything. Vending in the U.S. is broadly divided into two main types of vending: bulk vending and full line vending. Bulk vending sells candies, nuts, toys, and gums in small coin operated machines that consist of single or multiple heads. These heads can be arranged in a multitude of configuration on stands or what are known as racks. Racks can hold a large number of multiple heads, stand usually can only hold about 1-3 heads.
Meanwhile, full line vending sells packaged snacks and drinks like candy bars, soda, and chips. Full line machines are also coin operated machines but they are a lot more sophisticated as they can have refrigeration, bill changers, lighted panels, and fancy electronics. Full line machines are larger than bulk machines. Coin operated machines are usually run as a route by small operators or individuals who usually have machines placed in several different locations.
U.S. vending machines may not be as advanced as the ones in Japan that vend the most unusual products. In the west, there are the standard offerings of snacks, ATMs, feminine hygiene products, and gumballs.
The Stand Hotels, a small upscale hotel chain has recently introduced coin operated machines that sell Quicksilver board shorts and bikinis for the guests. There are also iPod vending machines making the rounds at hotels, airports and Macy’s Department Stores.
Coin operated machines have gone a long way since its humble beginnings in the 1st century. As the years go by and as the demand for convenience increases, the potential of vending is almost unlimited.
Source by Anne D. Carter