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Articles

The History of Vending Machines Goes Back to the 1st Century

by Ernie Smith / 03 Aug 2015

article-image(Image: Courtesy Tedium)

Vending machines are one of the few things keeping us away from the dream of a cashless society. The devices, which offer up an array of items for a little bit of pocket change, are silent but prevalent. They represent some of our most technologically advanced furniture, and they'll probably always be there for us in our time of need.

Turns out, vending machines also have a fascinating history. The first one was actually created to prevent holy water theft back in the 1st century.

That machine came about thanks to the handiwork of Heron of Alexandria. Now, Heron invented plenty of things that helped set the stage for our modern society. Steam engine? He was all over it. A wind-powered machine? That was him. The syringe? He got there first.

But many of these things pale in comparison to the machine he created that efficiently ensured that people weren't taking too much holy water at the temples where they went to worship. It was an annoying, frustrating problem, but Heron came up with a solution that was immensely clever.

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