Coin operated machines that sell merchandise.
Dickson Nickelodeon Fall 1974 cash box receipts page 1 Dickson Nickelodeon Fall 1974 cash box receipts page 2 Dickson Nickelodeon Fall 1974 cash box receipts page 3 Dickson Nickelodeon commission statement for October 13, 1974

My friends and I operated the Dickson Nickelodeon, a pinball arcade/coffee shop in the basement of a dormitory at Cornell University. We had acquired 23 (very) used coin-operated machines: pinball machines, arcade games, vending machines, and a penny scale.

During the 16 weeks of the fall 1974 semester, I recorded the cash box receipts for each of the 17 working machines. I don't know why I retained those records; I wish I had kept all the machines instead.

Can you guess which games were the most popular?

Northwestern Model 49 bulk vendor awaits customers. Northwestern Model 49 vendor with door open and globe removed for servicing. Northwestern Model 49 product wheel adjusts for different merchandise. A notice atop Northwestern Model 49 globe promotes improved sanitary delivery.

My first vending machine, a used Northwestern Model 49, provided a steady income during my high school years. I did not realize at the time that the Model 49 introduced many bulk vending features common in today's machines.

Cover of The Star Money Maker "A Self-Supporting School Lad," inside The Star Money Maker A listing for The Star Money Maker in a c. 1930 Johnson Smith & Co. catalog

The Star Money Maker inspired me to purchase my first gumball machine. This small book provides 53 pages of first-hand reports from youths who found clever ways to make money. What I didn't realize when I purchased the book in 1967, was that it had been published 60 years earlier!

Cover of Adventures with Vending Machines and Rack Merchandising by Ray Burkett A look inside Adventures with Vending Machines. Copyright 1967 by Ray Burkett

Adventures with Vending Machines and Rack Merchandising, by an Old Time Vendor as told to Ray Burkett, teaches you how to find profitable locations for gum and candy vendors, penny scales, jukeboxes, nut machines, and other coin operated devices. This 110-page book provides insights into smalltime vending operations in mid-20th century America.


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