The First Vending Machine (and other surprising firsts)
Neatorama's got this terrific post today on 5 Modern Technologies that Might Not Be So Modern. My favorite bit is about the first vending machine, used to dispense... that's right, Holy Water! From the piece:
"Hero rigged it so that when a coin was dropped into a slot, it fell on a pan, and the weight of it on the pan triggered a lever that opened up a valve that let some holy water flow out to the person who dropped the coin in. The pan kept tilting until the coin fell off of it, and when that happened the valve closed and the water would no longer dispense. The first modern-day vending machine came about in the 1880s, so you could say that Hero was well ahead of his time.
The other inventions are equally fascinating (a jet engine created in the first century? Electricity harnessed by the early Egyptians?). Be sure to visit the always terrific Neatorama for the rest of the article.