It’s likely that you’ve probably never taken the time to sit back and consider vending machines. In fact, you have probably never taken the chance to contemplate the history of vending machines.
After all who would? I know I didn’t, until I wrote this article and found the history to be surprisingly……well, fascinating. The next time you stop at a vending machine and purchase your favorite sweet, cold soda or that big caramel candy bar you’ll remember that even a vending machine is full of history.
What is Vending?
Vending is automatic retailing. Basically a vending machine allows someone to sell their products when he or she is not present to supervise the sales.
It is really quite an ingenious concept (after all, we all want more money and more time), and doesn’t seem to be a new one either.
A certain Greek–a mathematician by profession and interest–whose name was Hero created a vending machine of sorts, which would vend water within Egyptian temples.
Many centuries later, vending machines were offered commercially in London. In the 1880s vending sales in London included vending machines that would dispense post cards or books.
Vending Machines Take on a Sweeter Flavor in the United States
In 1888 vending machines and vending services and sales were offered commercially in the United States as well.
The vending machines in the United States were first introduced by the Thomas Adams Gum Company, whose owners were of course interested in taking advantage of vending machines for the sake of selling their gum. The gum’s flavor? Tutti-Fruiti.
Additional Vending Machines is the U.S.A.
As most retailers do, vending machine retailers and buyers began to realize that just vending gum was not exactly a way to capitalize on the concept of vending.
In 1897 the Pulver Manufacturing Company began to vend animated figures in addition to gum in order to increase their sales.
Spherical vending machines were also introduced in 1907 complete with lots of candy coated gumballs that could be found inside the sphere. American vending machines also offered cigars, stamps and postcards.
A vending machine restaurant was also invented in Pennsylvania in 1902 and managed to stay open until 1962. The restaurant’s name? Horn & Hardart.
Music to the Ear: The Juke Box Vending Machine
Vending machines provided everything from sweets to books but they didn’t produce sound, until the advent of the juke box, which like vending machines had a variety of predecessors.
One of the earliest forerunners to the juke box was the nickel-in-the slot machine, which was invented by Louis Glass and Willam S. Arnold in 1889. This machine was actually a phonograph, which would play a recording through sound or listening tubes when a coin was inserted into the apparatus.
The tubes soon became a nuisance and juke boxes were invented. Juke boxes allowed listeners to enjoy recordings without tubes and in addition to select from a wider variety of music.
Some of the juke boxes, which were commercially available were the Rock-Ola juke boxes (Rockola is a noun, not an adjective), the Seeburg juke boxes, and the Wurlitzer juke boxes.
Discount Vending and Vending Repair
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New jobs and positions were created in retail vending such as discount vending, vending sales, vending suppliers and vending services.
As most inventions do when they help us save time, vending machines made life a little easier for the general population and became a part of the mainstream American lifestyle and culture.