Vending machines might seem like a feature in almost every public space these days, but have you ever thought about where they came from? They actually have a long history that date back as far as the first century when Greek mathematician Hero of Alexandria found a way to dispense holy water in temples. They have come a long way since then, but the path has been an interesting one.
It is estimated that vending machines bring in a whopping revenue of several billion each year. That’s a huge figure for these machines and just goes to show how popular they really are.
It was 1822 before anything was developed that might look like the kind of machines that we are used to. This was built for the distribution of newspapers, and another version was created to dispense stamps later that century. In 1883, Percival Everett’s postcard dispensing machines became popular and took up residence in train stations and post offices across the country.
The idea of the vending machine developed over the years and started to include chewing gum, chocolate, cigarettes and matches. The idea of offering drinks didn’t occur until the early 1900s, and the first company to sell bottled drinks in vending machines was Coca-Cola, who remain a staple figure of most vending machines even today.
These days, the vending machine has developed to offer just about everything you could possibly need. From fresh coffee and sandwiches to sausage rolls and children’s toys. They were once reliant on you finding a few coins in your pocket, but especially since the COVID-19 pandemic, the move towards cashless machines has been huge and most now work with the swipe of a card or a phone.
When it comes to technology, Japan always leads the way, and the use of vending machines is no exception. The country actually has the highest per capita rate of vending machines in the whole world, and this is because they are used to distribute just about everything you can think of. They not only offer the cans and chocolate bars that we have come to expect, but also batteries, flowers, clothing, sushi and cake.
Vending machines are continuing to develop thanks to the convenience that they offer. They are available in almost every public space as well as within workplaces to give employees the chance to grab what they need quickly and easily. Vending machines are becoming increasingly sophisticated, which enables them to offer even more. Some versions even take the form of smart fridges which contain weighted shelves. They are sensitive enough to calculate what has been removed from the shelf based on the weight and charge the user accordingly.
Vending machines have come a long way from simply stocking crisps and fizzy drinks and have a longer history than many of us appreciate. Living in a post-COVID world, they now also offer a contactless way for the public and staff to enjoy top quality food and beverages whenever they need it.