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Guest Feature Article by Vending One: When Were Vending Machines Invented?

Today, you are likely to see a vending machine in any physical store that you enter. Whether it’s the supermarket or a local restaurant, there’s always a designated vending machine that’s meant to serve you whenever you feel like buying. You actually don’t have to worry about the time of shopping or who’ll serve you as vending machines have you covered. From foods and beverages to cigarettes and newspapers, there’s virtually a vending machine for everything.

You just need to insert money or a credit card and the vending machine will automatically sell to you. Because of this, they are often referred to as automatic retailers. But, as you continue to marvel at these masterpieces, do you really know when the machines were invented? We try to break down the history of the machines for you so as you can understand their origin much better.

The First-Ever Vending Machine Invention (215 BC)

The first vending machine dates back in Ancient Greek in 215 BC. It was a piece of work by mathematician Hero of Alexandria. The idea behind the invention is very interesting. You were required to feed the machine with coins so as it can give you ‘holy water’. Once you insert a coin into it, it would fall on an empty pan that was linked to a lever. So, the weight of the inserted coin will pull the attached lever resulting in the flow of ‘holy water’. The water was called ‘holy’ because it was tantamount to a ‘Greek god’. Later in 1615, the tobacco vending machine was invented in the UK. The machine was a portable one.

The First Modern Vending Machine (the 1880s)

The first-ever commercial (coin-operated) automatic retailer was invented in London early in 1880. The whole idea was to help busy and money-hungry entrepreneurs sell quickly and in bulk. The automatic retailer was designed to dispense postcards. The man behind the idea was Percival Everitt. This machine not only became an important dispensing point at the post offices but also at the railway stations. Later, the vending machine would dispense envelopes and notepapers in addition to postcards.

In 1893, the first vending machine company was founded in England. The company going by the name Sweetmeat Delivery was established to facilitate installation as well as maintenance of commercial vending machines. In 8893, a German entrepreneur who was selling chocolate set up his own company for building vending machines for chocolate dispensing. The machine will later be used to dispense soaps and matches.

The First-Ever Vending Machine in the US (1888)

The US is never left behind when it comes to inventions. Though the first modern vending machine was invented outside the US in the early 1880s, a similar design was built in the US in 1888. The company responsible was Thomas Adams Gums. The vending machine was meant to sell fruity gums in New York City, especially around the railway area. In 1887, the company added a gaming incentive to their invention. This prompted people to refer to the machine as a ‘trade stimulator’ as it encourages more people to buy the gums.

The Evolution of the Vending Machine

So much has changed since the first invention of the vending machine. So many vending machines companies have been founded over the years. So, technology has vastly changed. Here’s a breakdown of the evolution:

  • 1890 – The First Vending Machine for Drinks

From dispensing postcards and gums came vending machines for beverages. At around 1930, the first vending machine for dispensing sodas was invented. The only available dispensed soda drinks at the time were Pepsi and Coke. As expected, Coca Cola made the way for Pepsi. In 1946, the vending machine for dispensing coffee was invented for institutions. Later on, vending machines for canned soda were invented. The machines were also used to dispense water in restaurants and supermarkets. Surprisingly, a majority of the earlier designs are still in operation to date.

  • 1926 – The First Vending Machine for Cigarettes

The need to have a quick way of selling cigarettes prompted American inventor and innovator William Rowe to come up with the first vending machine for dispensing cigarettes. However, the invention has been marred with concerns about underage buyers and this messed up their popularity. Actually, they are more popular in Japan and Europe as opposed to the US as the countries have better ways to ensure age verification before selling.

  • 1950 – The First Vending Machine for Life Insurance

In 1950, American airports saw the need to sell life insurance via automatic selling points. So, they started using vending machines to sell policies to travelers that would assure them death coverage in case their flight crashed. Unfortunately, these machines were short-lived. They barely lasted two decades.

  • 1950 – The First Vending Machine for Schools

As you already know, the first coin-operated vending machine was invented in the 1880s. However, the machine was only redesigned for school use in 1950. This is the year that students and teachers would buy drinks and candies from automatic retailers. However, there were and still, are restrictions pertaining to what sugary consumables should be dispensed in schools and which ones shouldn’t.

  • 1965 – The First Vending Machine to Accept Paper Bills

Early in 1965, a man by the name John Greenwick decided to build a vending machine that uses paper bills instead of coins. This was a great shift from the original coin-operated vending machine. Now, people don’t have to carry coins anymore because of this invention.

  • 1972 – The First Vending Machine for Snacks

In 1972, a company by the name Polyvend saw the need to dispense snacks. So, they invented the first glass-front vending machine for shops. The machine would entice kids and adults with candy cravings to grab a bite. Such designs are quite popular around the shopping malls and in the streets.

  • 1987 – The First Vending Machine for Frozen Foods

The invention of vending machines for beverages and snacks opened the door for options that dispense frozen foods. Actually, the manufacturer saw the need to hold foods within the vending machine for long without risking them going bad. So, 1987 saw the origin of some of the world’s best vending machines for frozen food products.

Closing Thought:

The vending machines have come a long way and there is no doubt about it. From using coins to now using credit cards, it has been a story for the ages. These automatic retailers make things really interesting for the modern consumer. They not only get to save time but labor too. They are truly the future of the retail business.

 

 

Thank you to Vending One for allowing us use of such an informative article www.vendingone.com/when-were-the-vending-machines-invented/

Follow the link to see more articles by Vending One www.vendingone.com

Want to see your article published here? Please contact sales@intelligentvending.co.uk or head over to our Intelligent Vending website for more information.

The Vendo Company & The Sanden Corporation merger – Feature Article (3 of 3)

With the Oil Crisis in America hitting the people and businesses hard, it was a turbulent time for the United States. Having faced financial loses, The Vendo Company chose to streamline and concentrate solely on its drinks vending machine distribution division. This was one the most lucrative and sturdy pockets of business held by The Vendo Company and they had much previous success in the sector. Even though the site held in Kansas was closed, the company still kept plants functioning in Fresno, California and Corinth, Mississippi [1] In 1982, Elmer F Pierson, the founder of The Vendo Company, died aged 85. Elmer was praised for having been “One of the first business executives to express that there should be an interconnection between the corporate world and the art world” [2]

The 1980’s brought together two incredibly influential and successful companies that had mutually reflective qualities and had similar histories, despite being on different continents, with no relationship, and no affiliations to this point. Both had innovative ideas and developed iconic models that changed development, designs and productions within their fields, both made pursuits in varied areas of business and both made significant impact on the war effort for their alliance. These unique characteristics created a sort of symmetry and connection between the two companies even before their merger in 1988. Potentially, their relationship was laden with barriers such as, language, culture and social differences to name a few; but maybe all barriers are there to be overcome or perhaps they were never there to begin with; wherever the reality lies, the outcome was that the Japanese Sanden Corporation (who had experience of their own vending products, already released on the market) acquired the Vendo Company. The company received technical and financial support from its new parent company [3] and many saw The Vendo Company revitalised by the input and nurture that Sanden Corporation bestowed upon it. It wasn’t long before The Vendo Company began introducing innovations to the automated goods distribution market again. Showing that the support had truly helped rejuvenate the company.

In 1996 the Sanden Company was awarded an EPA prize (contribution to ozone layer preservation) by the US Environment Protection Agency. [4] The welfare of the environment became a pioneering drive behind The Sanden Corporation and Mr. Kaihei Ushikubo is reputable for being, amongst other things, environmentally conscious. This is still a core value in the company today. In 1999, Mr. Kaihei Ushikubo died aged 94. The Vendo Company continued to expand and in the early 2000’s moved its headquarters to Dallas, Texas and not long after changed its name, as a mark of thanks, loyalty and respect to its parent company. SandenVendo was born.

Today SandenVendo is a global enterprise that needs no introduction. It has, as a company, been integral in pushing the markets technology boundaries and in 2004 revealed the first vending machine equipped with C02. The company has flourished. The factory in Italy has expanded and there are now offices in Japan, Spain, Germany, France and Belgium. Keeping up with the rapidly growing market, SandenVendo have also started a Coffee sector of the business and in 2015 developed a new coffee machine; the company continues to advance the vending industry into a new era.

It seems lamentable, on reflection that neither the founder of The Vendo Company, Mr. Elmer F. Pierson, or the founder of The Sanden Corporation, Mr. Kaihei Ushikubo, would live to see their companies names stand side-by-side, as they sleekly merged and blossomed into the universal giant it is today; arguably, dominating the worlds vending stage. The consistent correlation and commonality between these two corporations seems, looking through their history, to have transcended any obstacles, barriers and complications with ease and with equal, mutual respect. Perhaps this relationship expertly highlights the Sanden company creed, bestowed upon the company by the late Mr. Kaihei Ushikubo,

“Let us Develop with Wisdom and Prosper in Harmony.”

With all the honour and respect that comes with a mission statement such as this, it seems that this is exactly how it was for both The Sanden Corporation and SandenVendo, and how it continues to be today.

 

ご興味頂きありがとうございました。

 

 

 

 

Footnotes:

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org
[2] https://kchistory.org Daniel Coleman “Elmer F. Pierson, Founder of the Vendo Company”
[3] https://en.wikipedia.org
[4] https://www.sanden.co.jp

Sources:

https://www.japantimes.co.jp “When industry works in step with nature” by C.W. Nicol

https://www.sandenvendo.it/en/history/

https://www.wasabi-jpn.com

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vendo

https://www.sanden.co.jp

https://www.vendingtimes.com

https://kchistory.org Daniel Coleman “Elmer F. Pierson, Founder of the Vendo Company”

https://kchistory.org Jason Roe, Digital History Specialist

https://pendergastkc.org Jason Roe, Digital History Specialist

The beginning of Sanden – Feature Article (2 of 3)

Mr. Kaihei Ushikubo started it all for Sanden. He was 34 and managing a textile mill when World War II broke out. At this time, private sector manufacturing plants were enforced to either shift into the sector of ammunition producing plants or close their business. [1] This is how the predecessor of The Sanden Corporation was created, in 1943, with 198,000 Yen, which in today’s terms is round about £1,400; it was named The Sankyo Electric Company. (The original site the company was built on, is where the present Head Office of Sanden is still currently located today!)  Mr. Ushikubo’s company showed great aptitude for flexibility and was able to adapt quickly to the changes happening in the world around it.  The company was very electronically minded, and technology driven and specialised in mica-condensers, wireless communication devices and paper-condensers, to name a few. These were developed using synthetic resin molding.

In 1948, after the war was over, Mr. Ushikubo set about developing dynamo lighting bicycle sets. Throughout the war, most of his task force had been riding to work on bicycles and they had been his inspiration for the product.  A sales campaign was run on dynamo bicycle lamps with a trademark “Owl” shining in the darkness, with slogans “Second sight in the night” and “A thousand times brighter than a full moon” [2] By 1953, it was producing 30,000 units a month, securely establishing itself as a permanent fixture in the dynamo bicycle lamp business sector [3]

JIS (Japanese Industrial Standards) were launched for the dynamo bicycle lamps in the early 1950’s. The low-voltage method designed by Sankyo Electric Company became fundamental criteria for the JIS; following this, in 1953, the company started exporting the dynamos. The company also began moving into the electric home-appliance market and the refrigeration market for business users. The staff at Sankyo were able to pioneer and develop a refrigeration product that was an open-type showcase which had never been seen in the industry. The design was a unique selling point putting the product into high demand, and the pioneering, innovative technology undoubtedly helped to revolutionise the sector. The company didn’t stop there, it was constantly developing new products for the sector, including mini-motors, electric washers, and other home electrical appliances. The company was growing fast and the main business offices were moved to Tokyo and shortly after Sankyo Electric started producing ice-cream freezers and more refined open refrigeration showcases.

As the company continued to grow with the start of the 1960’s, and with healthy sales of their electric freezers and refrigerators, the company branched off in a new direction and developed an original bubbler juice vending machine (also known as the ‘fountain juice machine’) and then went on to develop, down a slightly different avenue, oil heaters. The breadth of products available by Sankyo Electric seemed unbound and the technology seemed unrivalled. By 1964 the Sankyo Sales Company was established, spinning off the sales division from Sankyo Electric Company. [4] Not long after the oil heaters were on the market, the innovators at Sankyo Electric were able to manufacture a clean, forced-ventilation type heater that didn’t pollute the air in the room. This was an outstanding piece of technology that no-one had ever accomplished before. The company consistently acquired technologies, both in the cooling and heating areas of business. [5]

The Bubbler Juice Machine - Sankyo Electric (Sanden Corporation) - 1961

As the company was clearly a global leader on the refrigeration and ventilation front and were continuing to develop these technologies, in 1970, it caught the eye of the American, Mitchell Corporation. Sankyo Electric received an offer for technical collaboration for small-scale compressors. With this opportunity Sankyo Electric entered into an alliance with Mitchell Corporation and embraced its (still current) role as a manufacturer of compressors for air conditioning systems used in the automotive industry; the company continued to grow and establish itself in more countries and today parts it supplies are used in a quarter of all the cars produced world-wide. [6] In 1973 the “Sanden” tradename was established, and the company’s stocks were listed on the first page of the Tokyo Stock Exchange. [7] The company also launched affiliate branches around the globe in America, Singapore, Australia and the U.K.

The 1980’s brought with them a lot of progression for Sankyo Electric. 1981 saw the invention of a scroll-type compressor for automotive air-conditioning systems. Once again, this was a product that had never been seen before. One of the most noteworthy changes came in 1982 when the company changed its name to match its trademark; Sankyo Electric Company became Sanden Corporation and in 1984 the company expanded its global presence even more with joint ventures in India, Malaysia and Mexico. Sanden are clearly a very insightful, forward thinking and progressive company who don’t shy away from opportunity and in 1988 they came across a vending company in America. One who, like themselves had taken the world a bit by storm and who, like themselves, had pioneered and developed some spectacular products that arguably revolutionised their own market sectors. The company had been started by two brothers in Kansas and was called The Vendo Company.  The journey that followed changed and shaped the vending world forever.

Footnotes:

[1] https://www.sandenvendo.it
[2] https://www.sanden.co.jp
[3] https://www.sanden.co.jp
[4] https://www.sanden.co.jp
[5] https://www.sanden.co.jp
[6] http://www.manufacturing-journal.net
[7] https://www.revolvy.com

Sources:

https://www.sandenvendo.it

https://www.sanden.co.jp

http://www.manufacturing-journal.net

https://www.revolvy.com

Elmer F. Pierson Founder of the Vendo Company by Daniel Coleman https://www.hbs.edu

Jason Roe ‘Cool Operator’ Digital History Specialist https://kchistory.org

https://en.wikipedia.org

https://www.vendoco.com

https://en.wikipedia.org

https://www.sanden-europe.com

Elmer F. Pierson and the beginning of Vendo – Feature Article (1 of 3)

The story of SandenVendo begins on August 27th, 1896 when Elmer F. Pierson was born. Elmer, along with his brother, John, would go on to become the world renowned ‘Vendo Brothers’.

The Pierson brothers worked from an early age, delivering goods for the family grocery business. The boys’ father was the proprietor of several neighbourhood grocery stores. Here, Elmer grew increasingly curious of the world and envied the travelling salesmen, who visited the stores, as they had the opportunity to see the nation and seemed to make a good living [1]. Elmer was eager to explore for himself and took a job as a clerk for a wholesale grocery company, rather than going to college. Whilst this job enabled him to travel over a couple of states, these weren’t quite the glamourous and exciting sights that he had in mind! With strong desires and ambitions, he decided to head in a new direction.

With the outbreak of World War I, Elmer served his country as a second lieutenant in an Army machine gun unit and in 1919, after taking night classes, he graduated from Kansas City Law School and was admitted to the bar. Taking a bit of a different turn, as opportunity presented itself, he headed into property sales. He had a very unsuccessful first attempt but quickly picked himself up, with the help of his brother John, and made better headway on his subsequent ventures. No doubt he used his vast sales knowledge and experience to generate good profits that enabled him to finance the opening of his own firm.

Elmer had many strings to his bow (including being president of the Kansas City Real Estate Board) before he even embarked upon the journey into vending machines with his brother John in 1937, when ‘The Vendo Company’ was born.

Vending machines during the 1930’s were notoriously unreliable and the most effective way of getting a cold drink seemed to be digging your way into a chest freezer full of ice and finding it. They were also mainly outside making them seasonal in colder climates and hard for shopkeepers to manage their stock effectively as they relied heavily on customer honesty. The mechanical vending machines also seemed to falter when it came to distinguishing between real and counterfeit coins. The other popular shortcoming was machines jamming, particularly when trying to extract bottles from icy water.

Vending machines were perhaps seen as a bit of a risky, rather obscure challenge to be taking on in 1937, but after-all, isn’t that a sign of a great entrepreneur? Spotting the need and the potential in something before anyone else does. The Vendo brothers endeavoured to improve the state of vending machines, with focus on making the machines indoor, more reliable and tackling the problem of counterfeit coins.

The brothers purchased a patent for a lid that could be attached to coolers. With insightful innovation they designed a product that was more practical than anything else on the market. ‘The Red Top’ was born and is arguably the most iconic vending machine in history. The design had the vending lid moving the bottle towards the opening, rather than moving the opening to the bottle. It was essentially a lid with mechanical underpinnings that could be fitted onto a standard cooler. The design had the advantage of storing the bottles away from the ice, which lessened the potential for mechanical failure [2]. The innovative team that Elmer and John worked with were able to develop a shrewd ‘sound wave detection technology’, this sensor could determine whether coins put into the machines by patrons were real or counterfeit, based solely on the sound waves that were emitted when the coins dropped into the machine. Ingenious! Now that’s not to say that the machines all worked seamlessly from this point, there were redesigns and upgrades, just like we would strive for today; a modern refrigeration unit was added so ice was no longer an essential element, but by 1940 the reliability had caught the eye of Coca-Cola who officially endorsed them.

The Red Top Vendo Machine - Article 1938

During World War II, The Vendo Brothers, landed a massive sales contract from the War Department, which considered soft drinks ‘essential for soldier morale’ [3]. This was not the only military contract won by the company; the sensor technology that had been developed for coins was utilised and the same principle was applied to test the quality control of artillery shells for the U.S military [4]. Elmer was very proactive in the war effort and also volunteered The Vendo Company resources to help develop a portable antenna, for use in conjunction with radar to detect German Submarines. After 3 months of development Vendo went into production of 300,000 antennas [5]. After the war The Vendo Company went on to experiment with other technology devices that also operated through sound waves. The main business remained vending machines and it continued to grow geographically. By the 1960s, Vendo was the largest vending machine company in the world and had merged with a competitor to add Pepsi-Cola and Royal Crown drinks to its machines and it even sustained its global lead when glass bottles were replaced by aluminium cans.

In the 1970’s the oil crisis rocked the nation and businesses everywhere, including Vendo were affected. Facing financial losses, the company sold off its assets and kept only their drinks vending machine distribution division. This was merely the beginning for The Vendo Company. The 1980’s were going to bring exciting new developments, from exciting areas of the world.

Footnotes:

[1] Jason Roe, COOL OPERATOR. Digital History Specialist
[2] Jason Roe, COOL OPERATOR. Digital History Specialist
[3] Jason Roe, COOL OPERATOR. Digital History Specialist
[4] Daniel Coleman, ELMER F. PIERSON, FOUNDER OF THE VENDO COMPANY.
[5] Jason Roe, COOL OPERATOR. Digital History Specialist

Sources:

https://www.hbs.edu

https://kchistory.org

https://https://kchistory.org

https://www.ancestry.com

https://www.vendoco.com

https://www.kshs.org

https://en.wikipedia.org

The History is Coming

SandenVendo probably needs no introduction as one of the leading technology companies in the world, with offices and factories in Europe, Japan, America and more. Our working relationship with SandenVendo has always been a strong one and the company itself has such an interesting history that we have decided to run a series of feature articles on the history and merger of 2 entirely independent companies (The Vendo Company and Sanden Corporation) on entirely different continents; who came together to form one of the largest global vending companies of our time. As pioneers of technology and innovation ourselves we feel there are parallels that both of our organisations reflect.  If you have any interesting information you think we should include in these future articles, please let us know and we will be happy to credit you.

90 years in 2 days

In 2 days it is here. The 90 year anniversary celebrations begin. Make sure you don’t miss it! The AVA is hosting this wonderful event; what a fantastic way to start the weekend early. Charity vend prize draw, food of the world, the latest in wine and champagne vending, not to mention the fantastic people that help make it an event to remember! Two more sleeps!

The AVA countdown

Only 1 week to go until the live AVA show. The Automatic Vending Association are celebrating 90 years this year and we are very excited that the countdown is on. The event is bound to be epic with a range of activities over 2 days with opportunities to join in debates, participate in free workshops, meet and network with industry leaders, suppliers and customers. There is also some tasty food on offer and a chance to win a trip to the USA. The show is accessible for members and non-members so get your tickets now before its too late!

90 years of the AVA

Less than 2 weeks to go until the live AVA show. The Automatic Vending Association are celebrating 90 years this year and the event is bound to be super. There are a range of activities over 2 days with opportunities to join in debates, participate in free workshops, meet and network with industry leaders, suppliers and customers. The show is accessible for members and non-members and everyone we know is very excited about it. Let’s rock on for another 90 years.

Vend a penny

The S2 Multi-Vend is a classic within the hygiene vending sector. With 9 product choices it lends itself to several different configurations in the washroom, even for vending nappies!

It is easily wall mounted and can even be customised with company logos. This ideal smart electronic vending system with easy price, coin, and stock change makes it the perfect product for clients on the go when they nip to spend a quick penny.

Jolly good Pro

Intelligent Vending are showcasing the Jolly Pro change machine which boasts a range of product features and has an excellent dispensing capacity. It is slim and versatile and has high security against electronic frauds. It can be set up for banknote acceptance only or set up for banknote and coin acceptance and have a coin payment out or a token payment out.  With a clear LCD graphic display and a machine cloning function the Jolly Pro is a highly desired, sleek, space-saving change machine.

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