Ancient Origins Of Everyday Things :  Vending Machine


Invented by the famed Hero of Alexandria, the world’s first vending machine only had one snack you could get: holy water. In Egypt during the first century, a five-drachma coin, equivalent to around $4.40 in US dollars today, would get you a small amount of sacrificial water for use in the temples. Basically, a box had a slot in which the person would drop a coin. The coin would then hit a metal lever, which would act like a teeter-totter of sorts, moving the plug away from the holy water dispenser. Once the coin fell, the stream would be cut off.The need for this new invention arose because, as professor of Greek and Roman studies John Humphrey of the University of Calgary says, “people were taking more Holy Water than they were paying for.” However, due to Hero’s inclusion of others’ inventions in his writings, it’s not really clear if he was the first to come up with the idea. Ctesibius of Alexandria is probably the next most likely inventor.



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