Drink Machine

Australia's only Internet connected drink machine

The UCC Drink Machine:

Other pictures:

Machine history:

The big red edifice situated in the club room was purchased from the local subsiduary of the Coca-Cola corporation. It lacks a functioning coin slot, but that's okay because we have organized a serial interface and dispensing software on one of our local Unix boxes (currently mermaid) and tied in with a rather disturbing credit system so that the permanently plugged in masses can type a few simple commands to drop a can. All this wonderful remote-control does not aid in the transport from one end of the room to the other however. It is vaguely Internet connected, and vaguely reliable.

Machine status and drink dispensing:

To get its current state finger [email protected].

The latest and greatest thing to happen to the machine is for Luke Williams to create a web dispense interface!

Our machine in the Usenet news:

These are extracts from alt.hackers regarding our coke machine... (the original is now available through Google Groups) Read on...

[email protected] (Bruce James Robrert Linley) writes:

Some time ago, I remember reading about a coke machine on the Internet. You could 'finger' it to check it's inventory. Does anyone have it's address?


The best known is at CMU (try finger [email protected]). This is apparently their second machine, after the first died a some years ago. I've also heard that MIT had one, but couldn't find any confirmation beyond two machines called coke and Pepsi. They were not dispensing machines of any kind.

The Computer Club at the University of Western Australia also has a coke machine. As one of the chief perpetrators, I can tell you something about it.

It all started way back in '92 (remember that year?). We had heard the rumors about the CMU and MIT machines, and decided that this was something we just had to do. A few phone calls to coke, we found someone sympathetic to our cause, and explained what we wanted to do. It took a bit of explaining (these people had never heard of the Internet), but when they understood what we were babbling about, they were (somewhat) enthusiastic about the project. A few rules were bent, and we got an old machine on loan.

Hack hack drill solder. Our coke machine got a 68000 based board and power supply and relay drivers bolted to the insides. Some quick test software was writted (a very simple monitor with commands to drop a can from slot n), and a terminal was attached. In case you're interested, the controller board is an 8MHz 68000 with 16K EPROM, 64K SRAM, and a 68681 DUART. A few I/O ports were attached later (74LS373 and 244).

Months passed. People got told 'The hardware works. Come on - we need software'. The software didn't happen. Photo-transistors were added to sense the 'sold out' lights on the front. The software didn't happen. Blinkenlights were added (a bit-scrambled grey code. the scrambling changes every 10 seconds or so). The software didn't happen.

Then at last, the software was written. It still uses the old test monitor, but the UNIX end (running on our Sun) has accounting and various other nice features. You can still get a free can by unplugging the Sun, sticking a terminal into the plug, and typing 'D6' (slot 6 is where the coke usually lives. We number them from right to left).

Anyway. finger [email protected] will give you very little information on what is in the machine at the moment, and is probably wrong (the optosensors are playing up). We have a program called 'dispense' which will drop cans and remove credits from your account. 'dispense coke' searches for a non-empty slot containing coke, and sends the appropriate command to the machine. 'dispense' without any parameters displays an evil curses menu and lets you select the drink from that.

Since the above was written, we've replaced the photo-transistors with opto-isolators, the machine is now connected to one of our Intel Linux boxes, several versions of software for the machine have been written and a new brain is being constructed (albeit slowly).

The Coke knee-jerk:

Coke had initially loaned the machine to the UCC, but in mid-1995, the son of one of the directors in Atlanta (USA) found our machine and commented about this to his father. This resulted in the knee jerk reaction of Coke requesting the machine to be terminated, and hence the story was carried on most newspapers and on several radio stations across the country. The situation was rectified when the UCC purchased the already loaned machine from Coca Cola for $200.

The UCC Media Circus contains a few images of when a photographer came to the UCC from the West Australian newspaper.

[Original delivery note]

[Our receipt for the machine]

Statistics and Damned Lies:

  • According to the counter inside the machine, exactly 87000 drinks have been dispensed as of January 1st, 2000.
  • Between April 1997 and April 1998, some 14392 drinks were dispensed electronically. The breakdown was:
    • 20 mixeds
    • 41 7ups
    • 67 Diet lifts
    • 95 Dr Peppers
    • 111 sunkists
    • 114 Passionas
    • 132 Ginger Beers
    • 156 redeyes
    • 163 solos
    • 201 lemonades
    • 484 club lemons
    • 480 sprites
    • 492 red eyes
    • 604 lifts
    • 839 kole beers
    • 827 mountain dews
    • 1016 fantas
    • 1770 Jolts
    • 6780 Cokes, of which 141 were Happy.

In addition, during that time, people dispensed the following:

  • 2 nothings
  • 6 empty's
  • 46 clues

People involved:

Coke Brain:

Coke Software:

Talking to Coke:

Vending machines on the net:

Related sites:

Coca-Cola ads: