Vending in its earliest known form dates to 215 B.C. in Egypt. The mathematician Hero of Alexandria describes a device found in places of worship that would dispense holy water when a coin was deposited.
Centuries later, in 1888, Thomas Adams of the Adams Gum Company installed penny gum dispensing machines on New York’s elevated train platforms, and gave vending its start in the United States.
Today, vending machines are operated by many thousands of companies nationwide and worldwide. These machines range from relatively simple to highly sophisticated, and offer an enormously diverse array of products.
• 215 B.C.
Device to dispense holy water used in the temples of Egypt, described by the mathematician Hero, who lived in Alexandria.
• 1076 A.D.
Chinese produce a coin-operated pencil vendor.
Coin-operated tobacco boxes appear in English taverns.
U.S. grants several patents for coin-operated dispensers.
Thomas Adams company installs Tutti-Frutti gum machines on New York elevated train platforms.
Horn and Hardart Baking Company opens Automat restaurant in Philadelphia.
U.S. Post office begins to use stamp vendors.
First commercial cigarette vending machines enter the market.
Bottled soft drink machines, cooled with ice, appear on the market.
National Automatic Merchandising Association is founded.
Invention of the first coffee vendors leads to use of vending machines for coffee breaks.
First refrigerated sandwich vendors expand lunch menu.
U.S. Public Health Service approves Model Vending Sanitation Code, and NAMA establishes industry’s first evaluation program to certify vending equipment.
Dollar bill changers are added to vending banks.
Electronic components applied to vending machines.
Credit card/debit card devices for vending machines introduced.
100th Anniversary of vending in U.S.
Flavored coffees, espresso, and cappuccino introduced in machines.
First remote wireless transmission of data from machines to warehouses.
New dollar coin introduced by U.S. Mint.