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Money Hungry: How a Snack Machine Reads Your Money

When was the last time that you popped a couple quarters into a vending machine in exchange for a quick snack or beverage? It happens thousands if not millions of times a day all over the world. But have you ever wondered how that snack machine turns your quarter into a perfect snack?  It actually involves an intricate money reading technology that has been around for quite some time.

Here’s how it works.

In order for a vending machine to spit out your selection of choice it must read the coin that you insert. It reads coins based on the physical characteristics of each individual piece of currency. There are some more advanced vending services that read chemical composition; however, most traditional machines solely read the physical properties of the money such as diameter, thickness and ridges of coins.

For example, most machines can recognize a quarter due to the fact that it’s 0.9555 inches in diameter, 0.069 inches thick and has 119 ridges. There are some machines that also accept coin denominations that are larger than a quarter, including half dollars or even Susan B. Anthony coins. 

When it comes to paper money, vending machines are just as intelligent. Paper money that is printed in the U.S. has an array of security features that help vending machines properly read its denominations. Primarily, vending services recognize paper money through a magnetic scan. Paper money is printed with magnetic ink that makes it easily identifiable.  U.S. paper money is also marked with fluorescent properties that can be read by an ultraviolet light that scans the bill.

In this day and age it is also common for vending machines, especially vending machines that dispense more expensive types of items, to read credit cards as well. These types of machines contain a magnetic strip reader that measures the orientation of magnets that make up the strip on the back of a credit card. The data that is received from these magnets is then sent to a small processor and assembled into information that is necessary for the machine to read the card such as card number and expiration date.

Regardless of what type or denomination of money that you insert into a vending machine or how it works behind the scenes; the magic of vending machines still remains a constant after all these years.

Eric via Compfight

Sarah Wozniak

Staff Writer, Page1 Online Marketing