The World’s First Vending Machine

May 19, 2024



The world’s first vending machine dispensed holy water in the first century AD. It was the work of Hero of Alexandria, an engineer and mathematician. When a person inserted a coin in the machine in a slot at the top, it hit a metal lever. This would open a plug attached from a line on the other end of the lever due to the weight of the coin. A certain amount of holy water was then dispensed. When the coin dropped off, a counterweight caused the plug to be reinserted, and the flow stopped. Simple and effective.

Why the need for a holy water dispensing machine? According to John Humphrey, a Greek and Roman studies professor at the University of Calgary, from an article in Smithsonian Magazine, the machine was made “because people were taking more Holy Water than they were paying for.”

About the author 

Daniel Ganninger - The writer, editor, and chief lackey of Knowledge Stew, the author of the Knowledge Stew line of trivia books, and editor of Fact World and the Knowledge Stew sister site on Medium, our ad-free subscription sites. I hope you learn many new things here that add to your knowledge.

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