The History of Vending Machines

toy vending

The History of Vending Machines

Although, there is no exact starter date, it is estimated that the first toys sold in vending machines began between the years 1907-1930. The first toys introduced were made from small wooden toys. Plastic and metal materials were put into production after the 1950’s. These materials made toys more attractive as well as more durable. As manufacturing technology developed, the quality of toys improved. Therefore, better value products were offered in the market.

Vending machines have historical roots in ancient Greece! The first known vending machine was designed by the Greek engineer and mathematician Hero of Alexandria around 215 BC. These initial vending machines were situated in Egyptian temples and dispensed holy water in exchange for coins.

In spite of this early revolution, it was not until the early 1880s that the primary commercial coin-operated vending machines were presented for public use. These vending machines dispensed post cards and were found in London. Around the same time, Richard Carlisle, an English publisher and bookshop owner, invented a vending machine that gave out books.

Vending machines made their United States appearance in 1888 when the Thomas Adams Gum Company installed machines on subway platforms in New York City to vend Tutti-Frutti gum. In 1897, the Pulver Manufacturing Company added animated figures to vending machines, which provided extra entertainment for the customer as the figures would move once coins were inserted into the machine.

After these first vending machines were familiarized, others soon followed, vending a wide diversity of products such as cigars, postcards and stamps. In 1902, the Horn & Hardart Baking Company opened a wholly coin-operated Automat restaurant, which stayed in business until 1962.

Gumball Machines

  • 1907 – Round candy-coated gumballs and gumball machines are introduced.

Soda Machines & Soft Drink Machines

  • Early 1920’s – The primary automatic vending machines that gave out soda into cups are devised.
  • 1930s – Chilled bottled soft drink machines are invented, followed by the first Coca-Cola bottle vending machine built by The Vendolator Company in 1937.
  • 1961 – Canned soda machines are announced.
  • 1978 – Soft drink machines that dispense water are introduced.

Snack Machines

  • 1972 – Polyvend presents the first glass front snack machines.
  • 1987 – The first frozen food vending machines are announced.

Cigarette Machines

  • 1926 – William Rowe, an American inventor, discovers the first commercial cigarette vending machine.

Coffee Vending Machines

  • 1946 – The development of coffee vending machines promotes their use for coffee breaks.
  • 1960 – The primary single-cup coffee vending machines come to market.
  • 1988 – Bean-grinders are obtainable in coffee vending machines.
  • 1991 – Coffee vending machines dispense flavored coffees, espresso and cappuccino.








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