Geek Trivia

Modern Arcade Games Evolved From Which Unlikely Ancestor?

Coin-Operated Dryers
The Vending Machine
Sonar Displays
Pool Tables
What Iconic Children's Toy Started Life In A Military Research Lab?

Answer: The Vending Machine

The first modern coin-operated vending machines, produced by the Thomas Adams Gum Company, appeared in America in 1888 and dispensed chewing gum at train stations across New York City. Just short of a decade later, in 1897, Pulver Manufacturing Company added mechanical figures into vending machines to make purchasing from the automated dispensaries more appealing to children; after dropping your coin in, not only would you get the candy or gum, but you would also get to watch a little automated show unfold inside the machine.

These automated shows increased in sophistication and, eventually, included user interaction, effectively becoming a game within the vending machine. It was here, in seeing how playing the game inside the machine was as much an incentive as the candy, that the ideas for other coin-operated games were spawned. Slot machines, pinball machines, and later, video arcade games, can all trace their roots back to the early “trade simulator” games built into early 20th century vending machines.