Early Vending Machines

Previously, if I’d been asked to take a guess as to when the earliest versions of vending machines were, I probably would have guessed sometime in the early part of last century. I imagine some sort of glass bottle Coca-cola drink vending machine made out of aluminum and the size of an SUV.

Turns out, it was ancient Greece.

Yes, the first vending machine manufacturer was an Ancient Greek. Hero of Alexandria in 215 B.C.E built a device that offered holy water in exchange for coins.

However, the snack and drink vending machines had to wait centuries before reaching their current popularity. In fact, it wasn’t until the late 1800’s that new coin-operated vending machine was created: a device in London that dispensed post cards for money.

But the debut of the vending machine in America did not occur until 1888. The Thomas Adams Gum Company created a machine that sat on New York City subway platforms and offered Tutti-Frutti gum. From their vending machines were built that dispensed toys, cigars, stamps, and food.

Today, they are most known as drink vending machines and soda vending machines – simple convenient devices that are good for an easy snack. But like so many other things, their roots don’t quite match their current shade of bark.