A few years back a rash of these monstrosities sprung up at universities across the world. Telnet was the common access mode.

Unfortunately the primary problem was not solved, that being once you had perused the essential vitals, how would you purchase and recover it?

And, yes, Coke always seemed to be out of stock.

One of these exists at MIT LCS. One person was appointed the accounts keeper, and would create accounts for anyone who wanted cola. You give him some money, he puts it in the soda fund, and adds that amount to your account. You could telnet into the account from anywhere on the network (to check your balance or your favorite soda's availability, or to transfer credit to another user), but when you want to buy a soda, you use the terminal next to the machine. It always gave me a thrill to simply type in name, password, and soda selection and KER-CHUNK - You've got Root Beer!

I guess the ultimate in fizzy-drink-vending-automation would let you pay by credit card, and would re-order soda automatically at a certain point.

Side note: I often wish that more of the things I type had actual, physical consequenses - don't you? Addendum - hooray for the X10 firecracker module and the br *nix interface - now keypresses can operate any electrical device in my home!

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