TECH

23 Wild Vending Machines You'll Wish Were Still Around

They dispense a lot more than soda.

For some, the rise of artificial intelligence provokes fears of job-stealing robots. But people have been outsourcing odd jobs to machines for a long time. In fact, using machines to sell stuff is almost as old as machinery itself, dating back to the days of Archimedes.

The oldest known automated vendor is believed to have been invented in Ancient Egypt around 200 B.C. The machine, which was housed in a temple in Alexandria, employed a system of levers to dispense holy water to worshippers -- after, of course, they fed it a five-drachma coin.

As time went on, devices designed around similar concepts were used to sell everything from stockings to draught beer to full-sized clocks.

Here's a look at 23 vintage vending machines from 1900 to 1988 that were beautiful, wacky and way ahead of their time. 

  • At the Second Automatic Vending Exhibition in London, a woman helps herself to a vending machine-mixed whisky and soda on Feb
    Ron Case/Keystone/Getty Images
    At the Second Automatic Vending Exhibition in London, a woman helps herself to a vending machine-mixed whisky and soda on Feb. 15, 1960.
  • Vending machine offering a light in Hamburg, Germany, circa 1951.
    ullstein bild/Getty Images
    Vending machine offering a light in Hamburg, Germany, circa 1951.
  • Two women try out the first tights vending machine in Paris, circa 1965.
    Keystone/Getty Images
    Two women try out the first tights vending machine in Paris, circa 1965.
  • Vending machine selling hot sausages presented at the industries fair in Berlin, Germany, circa 1954. 
    ullstein bild/Getty Images
    Vending machine selling hot sausages presented at the industries fair in Berlin, Germany, circa 1954. 
  • An English man demonstrates an egg vending machine at the gate of his farm on Sep. 9, 1963. 
    Central Press/Getty Images
    An English man demonstrates an egg vending machine at the gate of his farm on Sep. 9, 1963. 
  • A woman getting a pint of draught bitter from a vending machine, circa 1960s.
    Daily Express/Archive Photos/Getty Images
    A woman getting a pint of draught bitter from a vending machine, circa 1960s.
  • Three women enjoy soup from a Campbell's Soup vending machine in their office, 1950s. One woman opens a can of soup with a fl
    Authenticated News/Getty Images
    Three women enjoy soup from a Campbell's Soup vending machine in their office, 1950s. One woman opens a can of soup with a floor-mounted can opener.
  • A woman operating the first vending machine in Britain to sell potatoes at a greengrocer's shop at Chelsea, London, on Oct. 2
    Chris Ware/Keystone/Getty Images
    A woman operating the first vending machine in Britain to sell potatoes at a greengrocer's shop at Chelsea, London, on Oct. 22, 1962. The machine provided a round-the-clock service.
  • A vending machine for bouquets of flowers in the Western part of Berlin, circa 1930. 
    IMAGNO/Austrian Archives/Getty Images
    A vending machine for bouquets of flowers in the Western part of Berlin, circa 1930. 
  • Milk vending machine in London, England, circa 1931.
    ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images
    Milk vending machine in London, England, circa 1931.
  • Londoner Pauline Dawkins demonstrating how to use the new refrigerated vending machine called the "5 Star Microdine Hot Meal
    im Gray/Keystone/Getty Images
    Londoner Pauline Dawkins demonstrating how to use the new refrigerated vending machine called the "5 Star Microdine Hot Meal Service" on June 3, 1966. She takes the packed frozen meal from the machine and inserts it into the microwave oven for heating.
  • Coal machine distributor in England.
    Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images
    Coal machine distributor in England.
  • Musical vending machine for chocolate in Berlin, Germany, circa 1924.
    ullstein bild/Getty Images
    Musical vending machine for chocolate in Berlin, Germany, circa 1924.
  • Vending machine with a lobster sandwich in a restaurant in Berlin, Germany, circa 1936.
    ullstein bild/Getty Images
    Vending machine with a lobster sandwich in a restaurant in Berlin, Germany, circa 1936.
  • A vending machine selling clocks in Berlin, Germany, circa 1963.
    Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone/Getty Images
    A vending machine selling clocks in Berlin, Germany, circa 1963.
  • Machine giving out a bag of 5-kilogram balls of coal in the Parisian suburbs, circa 1963.
    Gamma-Keystone/Getty Images
    Machine giving out a bag of 5-kilogram balls of coal in the Parisian suburbs, circa 1963.
  • A woman buys a carton of milk from a vending machine, U.K., May 1960.
    Michael Ward/Getty Images
    A woman buys a carton of milk from a vending machine, U.K., May 1960.
  • A man buys his warm lunch from a vending machine at Zandvoort in the Netherlands, circa 1950.
    Fox Photos/Getty Images
    A man buys his warm lunch from a vending machine at Zandvoort in the Netherlands, circa 1950.
  • Two women buying groceries from a vending machine, circa 1930. 
    Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago/Getty Images
    Two women buying groceries from a vending machine, circa 1930. 
  • A man has his boots cleaned by an automatic penny-in-the-slot boot-polishing machine, circa 1907.
    Topical Press Agency/Getty Images
    A man has his boots cleaned by an automatic penny-in-the-slot boot-polishing machine, circa 1907.
  • A woman holds an article which she has just bought from a German "Feinkost" vending machine mounted on a shop's wall, circa 1
    Meyer Pfundt/BIPs/Getty Images
    A woman holds an article which she has just bought from a German "Feinkost" vending machine mounted on a shop's wall, circa 1955.
  • A vending machine sells fruit in London, England, circa 1929. 
    ullstein bild/ullstein bild/Getty Images
    A vending machine sells fruit in London, England, circa 1929. 
  • Videotapes for rent from an automatic vending machine, May 10, 1988. Darlene Mathews uses a bank card to select her tape&nbsp
    Toronto Public Library/Toronto Star/Getty Images
    Videotapes for rent from an automatic vending machine, May 10, 1988. Darlene Mathews uses a bank card to select her tape at the Thornhill Community Centre in Canada.
CONVERSATIONS