The 2,000-year-old history of vending machines

There’s little more frightening than watching a purchased bag of Sunchips get caught in a vending machine, and no greater joy than when three bags of Sunchips fall for the price of one.

We’ve all been there.

While vending machines have made great technological strides, they essentially still operate with the same basic contraption. The earliest known version offered the most extraordinary of snacks: water, well holy water, to be exact. As Kerry Segrave, author of Vending Machines: A Social History, found, the first vending machine was invented by Heron of Alexandria in first-century Roman Egypt because worshipers were taking more than their fair share of holy water at temple.


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