Abstract: A vending machine has a front panel with plural removable storage and dispensing trays extending through the enclosure, and defining a rear vertical chute curving gradually in a horizontal direction under the trays and communicating with a vend opening. The machine includes a bar code reader or similar input apparatus for receiving plural control and inventory inputs representative of a UPC code for articles to be inserted in each tray position, the quantity of articles inserted in each tray position, the identity of the tray position and the selection button corresponding to each tray position. A sensor is located at the back of each tray position at the exit into the chute, for detecting when an individual article passes into the chute to provide a sensing output, the operation of the tray position being continued until an article is dispensed into the chute.
Abstract: A system and method for processing credit card transactions includes a data processor with memory storage capable of accessing an electronic clearing facility through a time rated (e.g., long distance) communication link. The system generates a real-time communication with the clearing facility to determine card validity and to initiate funds collection for transactions above a predetermined amount, and generates an off-line batch communication to the clearing facility at a time when communication rates are reduced to initiate funds collection for transactions in the system below the predetermined amount. The system relies upon local card validation, including memory storage of a previously validated card during a predetermined time period, as well as rejection of previously invalidated cards during another predetermined time period.
Abstract: An electronically controlled dispensing machine for articles such as video cassettes has a plurality of individual lockable compartments. The compartments have transparent doors through which the articles can be identified. A customer presents a coded data storage token with a credit amount stored on it to the machine, and selects and removes one or more articles. The machine reduces the credit amount on the token accordingly. The articles can be returned to a vacant compartment in due course, and if the article is returned late, a further amount is deducted from the credit amount on the token. Sensors in each compartment ensure that the cassettes are inserted correctly by sensing an electrically conductive portion of the cassettes.