The Vending Machine Supermarket of 1948

A bit of ‪paleofuture‬ for us today: the 1948 vending machine supermarket. When too much technology kills a business as it makes customers’ life more complicated in the end.

Sample merchandise was displayed behind rows of little display cabinets of glass boxes and shoppers selected their merchandise with a key given to them initially. Customers then put the key in labeled keyholes at the merchandise display and selected the quantity. Electric circuits caused perforations to be cut in a ticker tape attached to the face of the customer’s key. The customer then took the punched out tape to the cashier for processing The cashier would insert the tape into a reading mechanism that would electronically read it. That set off electrical and electronic circuits which started the goods sliding down conveyor belts and did the cost tallying in the process. […]

it was complicated, which is what essentially led to its demise. Contemporary technology just wasn’t able to handle the concept. And of course, it wasn’t a fully automated concept…


I am an entrepreneur and researcher passionate about understanding the social implications of digital technologies.
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