Technology Trivia Quiz
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3. Farewell to change
The first coin-operated vending machine dates from at least the first century BC. What product did the machine dispense?
Your answer — D) Horoscopes — was incorrect.
The holy-water vending machine was invented by the Greek mathematician Hero, or at any rate was first described by him. Visitors to temples in Alexandria, Egypt placed a five-drachma coin in the machine and received a measured amount of holy water for ritual cleansing before joining in the rites conducted within. The machine depended on the weight of the coin to open the valve that allowed the water to flow. Given the relatively simple mechanism, it is quite likely that the first vending machine fraud also occurred at that time. Hero is also credited with devising the first steam engine, although given the widespread availability of slaves it was not put to practical use.
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