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Engr. Norberto L. Tanquizon


A vending machine, by definition, is a machine that provides various

snacks, beverages, and other products to consumers. The idea is to vend
products without a cashier. Items sold via vending machines vary by country and

In some countries, merchants may sell alcoholic beverages such as beer

through vending machines, while other countries do not allow this practice
(usually because of dram shop laws).

Cigarettes were commonly sold in the United States through these

machines, but this practice is increasingly rare due to concerns about underaged
buyers. Sometimes a pass has to be inserted in the machine to prove one's age.
In some countries like Germany and Japan, by contrast, cigarette machines are
still common. Vending machines were used at airports from the 1950s well into
the 1970s to sell life insurance policies covering death in the event that the
buyer's flight crashed. Such policies were quite profitable, because the risk of any
given flight crashing was (and remains) very low, but this practice gradually
disappeared due to the tendency of American courts to strictly construe such
policies against their sellers.

The use of vending machine has dispersed globally. One great advantage
of this is convenience to the part of the customers. One will basically just have to
insert money in the machine and wait for the desired product to come out.
Definitely, you’ve been offered with the convenience of buying something without
having the delay by the cashier. The machine, itself, does not require many
workforces just to serve one customer. The basic requirement is only electricity.


The first recorded reference to a vending machine is found in the work of

Hero of Alexandria, a first-century engineer and mathematician. His machine
accepted a coin and then dispensed a fixed amount of holy water. When the coin
was deposited, it fell upon a pan attached to a lever. The lever opened up a valve
which let some water flow out. The pan continued to tilt with the weight of the
coin until it fell off, at which point a counter-weight would snap the lever back up
and turn off the valve.
Despite this early precedent, vending machines had to wait for the
Industrial Age before they came to prominence. The first modern coin-operated
vending machines were introduced in London, England in the early 1880s,
dispensing post cards. The first vending machine in the U.S. was built in 1888 by
the Thomas Adams Gum Company, selling gum on train platforms. The idea of
adding simple games to these machines as a further incentive to buy came in
1897 when the Pulver Manufacturing Company added small figures which would
move around whenever somebody bought some gum from their machines. This
simple idea spawned a whole new type of mechanical device known as the
"trade stimulators". The birth of slot machines and pinball is ultimately rooted in
these early devices. – wikipedia.org

Based on what we think of when we hear the term “vending machine”

today, some might be surprised to learn that vending machines have their
historical roots in ancient Greece! The first known vending machine was invented
by the Greek engineer and mathematician Hero of Alexandria around 215 BC.
These first vending machines were located in Egyptian temples and dispensed
holy water in exchange for coins.

Despite this early innovation, it was not until the early 1880s that the first
commercial coin-operated vending machines were introduced for public use.
These vending machines were found in London and dispensed post cards.
Around the same time, Richard Carlisle, an English publisher and bookshop
owner, invented a vending machine that dispensed books.

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

After these first vending machines were introduced in the U.S., other
vending machines soon followed, offering a wide variety of items including cigars,
postcards, stamps, etc. In 1902, the Horn & Hardart Baking Company opened a
completely coin-operated Automat restaurant, which stayed in business until

Following is a brief timeline of historical milestones for different vending


Gumball Machines
• 1907 - Round candy-coated gumballs and gumball machines are

Soda Machines & Soft Drink Machines

• Early 1920's - The first automatic vending machines that can dispense
sodas into cups are invented.
• 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 introduced.
• 1978 – Soft drink machines that dispense water are introduced.

Snack Machines
• 1972 – Polyvend introduces the first glass front snack machines.
• 1987 – The first frozen food vending machines are introduced.

Cigarette Machines
• 1926 - William Rowe, an American inventor, invents the first commercial
cigarette vending machine.

Coffee Vending Machines

• 1946 – The invention of the first coffee vending machines popularizes their
use for coffee breaks.
• 1960 – The first single-cup coffee vending machines come to market.
• 1988 – Bean-grinders are available in coffee vending machines.
• 1991 – Coffee vending machines offer flavored coffees, espresso and
Reference: gumballs.com/machines.html

After paying, a product may become available by:

• the machine releasing it, so that it falls in an open compartment at
the bottom, or into a cup, either released first, or put in by the
• the unlocking of a door, drawer, turning of a knob, etc.

Sometimes the product is not just released, but prepared; this may be the
case e.g. in the case of coffee, french fries, or a ticket that is printed after paying.

The main example of a vending machine giving access to all merchandise

after paying for one item is a newspaper vending machine (also called vending
box). It contains a pile of identical newspapers. After a sale the door
automatically returns to a locked position. A customer could open the box and
take all of the newspapers or, for the benefit of other customers, leave all of the
newspapers outside of the box, slowly return the door to an unlatched position, or
block the door from fully closing, each of which are frequently discouraged,
sometimes by a security clamp. The success of such machines is predicated on
the assumption that the customer will be honest (hence the nickname "honor
box"), which is helped by the fact that having more than one newspaper is not
often useful.


This section does not cite any references or sources. Please help
improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unverifiable material
may be challenged and removed. (October 2008)

The actual causes of vending machine malfunction are usually many-fold.

Coin acceptors often jam up, especially if a bill or other foreign object is inserted
into the coin slot. If the coin box is not cleared often enough, coins can fill up past
the coin detector, preventing further purchases. Certain vending machines use a
spiral kind of mechanism to separate and to hold the products, such as plastic
bags of potato chips. When the machine vends, the spiral turns, thus pushing the
product forward and falling down to be vended. If the products and the spiral are
misaligned, the spiral may turn but not fully release the product, leaving the spiral
snagged on the product and having it hang there. This may cause repercussions
to the alignment of the products behind it if someone knocks the hanging product
down, as the spiral must move a fixed distance. To somewhat remedy this
problem, some manufactures attach a small piece of plastic to the end of the
spiral that extends forward assisting in pushing and clearing the product from the

Additional sources of failure can include machines not being supplied the
proper power, damage due to vandalism, and insufficient maintenance or upkeep
by the operator.

Bill validators are also a source of frustration for many customers,

especially when they falsely reject a bill that happens to be crumpled, ripped, or
dirty. U.S vendors, realizing they were losing sales because of validator
malfunctions, formed the Coin Coalition to support the United States dollar coin.
Their efforts to completely replace the dollar bill with the Sacagawea dollar have
been unsuccessful so far. Also some machines may not accept quarters and
other coins on the first pass through the coin slot, causing the customer to have
to collect the coins from the change return and reinsert them.

Most vending machines have a phone number that users can call to report
malfunctions or request assistance.

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