The History of Vending Machines

Polar Station kiosks represent the next generation in automatic retailing. But did you know that the vending machines from which our kiosks have evolved are actually not a new phenomenon? Historical records show that the Greek mathematician Hero invented a tabletop device to sell holy water in Egypt and temples.

In the modern era, the first commercial coin-operated vending machines made their debut in London around 1880 dispensing postcards. Richard Carlisle,  a British bookshop owner, soon invented one that sold books.

Vending machines made their way across the Atlantic to the United States in 1888. The Thomas Adams Gum Company installed these devices on elevated subway platforms in New York City and sold Tutti-Fruiti gum. Nine years later, the Pulver Manufacturing Company enhanced vending machines with animated figures to entertain customers.

At the turn of the twentieth century, automatic retailers were offering the public everything from postcards to cigars to stamps. The first kiosk-like vending machine came in the form of a completely coin-operated restaurant called Horn & Hadart.  This Philadelphia establishment first opened in 1902 and stayed in operation until 1962.

The first modern water vending machine appeared in 1908. Consumers purchased small paper cups from a dispenser and filled it with drinking water from an adjacent reservoir. It was not until almost seventy years later in 1976 that the first practical water vending machine went into service.

Water vending developed into a viable industry by the early 1980s. Stores and outlets benefited from automatic retailers because these machines reduced the need to order, store and stock valuable shelf space with bottles of water that did not generate a great deal of profit.

Since that time, water vending has exploded into a multi-billion-dollar industry. But along with the increased demand for water and water-based goods have come issues of sustainability. For example, every year, approximately 75% of water bottles–which must be transported to stores over long distances from water bottling plants–go unrecycled and end up in landfills, waterways and on roadsides.

Polar Station kiosks represent the next phase in water and water-product vending. Not only are they fully automatic, they also rely on local water sources and use less plastic for bottling and bagging purposes. So if you are looking to make a profitable and environmentally sustainable investment, our kiosks are the wave of the future.

Call us at (636) 614-2832 for free information on owning a Polar Station Ice and Water Vending business.

Originally posted 2012-02-12 12:47:16.