As far as What item did the first vending machines in the United States dispense? That item Was gum. In 1888 Thomas Adams Gum Company developed these machines to sell gum on New York City train platforms. These vending machines vended Tutti – Frutti gum.
Coated Gumballs – 1897
In 1897 The Pulver Manufacturing Company added illustrated figures to its gum machines as an extra attraction. Then the Pulver manufacturing company added the round candy coated gumball and gumball vending machines were introduced in 1907.
Soda machines dispensing drinks go as far back as 1890 in Paris. But the first automatic vending machines that dispensed soda into a cup were developed in the early 1920’s. And then into the 1930’s the first automatic vending machines that sold soda bottled (not dispensed into cups) were introduced.
In 1926 William Rowe invented the Cigarette vending machine. Although over time the machines became less common due to concerns of underage buyers. But they were invented in 1926.
One of the first vending machines to dispense coffee was developed in the 1940’s. It was considered the first vending machine to dispense a palatable cup of coffee. The machine automatically mixed a liquid coffee concentrate with hot water according to Cyrus Melikian one of the inventors.
From the year 1950 until the 1970’s vending machines were used at airports to sell life insurance policies covering death, in the event that the buyers flight crashed. So an insurance on yourself right before you took flight.
In the year 1972 The first snacks were vended from vending machines. The company Polyvend saw the need to sell snacks in an attractive manner, so they came up with the first ever glass front dispensers.
Combination vending machines
By the mid 2000’s automatic combination product vending machines that sold cold drinks and food of frozen meals were on the rise.
The Year Of the Credit Card Scanners
In 2006 the vending machine industry took a big jump, credit card scanners became common on vending machines. Within 10 years almost every new machine was equipped to accept credit cards, opening the door to the sale of many high priced items. Including fish bait, online internet time, lottery tickets, books, hot foods, electronics, over the counter drugs, marijuana, automobiles etc.
In the year 2016, Autobahn Motors in Singapore opened a luxury car vending machine offering Ferrari’s and Lamborghini’s. And as we’ve seen lately in the U.S. Carvana vending machines are around.
Japan has the most innovative uses of automated vending machines. They have the coolest vending machines in the world. There vending machines dispense all types of unique stuff. They are at the forefront of vending. Japan has the highest per capita rate of vending machines in the world.
From the first item the first vending machines in the U.S. dispensing being gum in New York City train platforms with a simple mechansim. Drop a coin and gum comes out. To now where there are cashless payments, facial recognition, eye, fingerprint recognition and social media connectivity on vending machines. Although facial recognition, eye, fingerprint recognition are not on the forefront of vending these machines are in the process of being developed and soon will take over the vending industry. And also some have been developed already. Vending machine technology has grown immensely. It is likely also that vending machines of the future will recognize you and tailor their offerings to your interests and tastes.
Incredible how far the industry has gone and where it will continue to go. With the helps of NAMA (National Automatic Merchandising Association), The vending industry will continue to make leaps and bound in a shorter period of time. And we hope to be here for the ride.