ASCII by Jason Scott

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Coin, Operated Book, Sitting on the Shelf —

As part of the research into the Arcade documentary, I paid a hell of a lot of money (three figures, let’s just say) for a rare book called “Drop Coin Here” by Ken and Fran Rubin, published in 1979. I got it because it has vital information on the real deep history of coin-operated machines and Penny Arcades, and, well, the Arcade documentary isn’t just about Ms. Pac-Man.

Anyway, in all the reams of debates, discussions, entries and general scrum that I’ve seen out about information wanting to be free, intellectual property, and so on, there’s one photo in this book of a 1900 coin-operated machine worth pointing out:

Yes, you read right, this is a coin-operated dictionary, providing you limited access to a book, before snapping shut, for the mere price of a penny.

Anyway, before someone starts going off on companies or individuals charging for the right to learn, read books, and so on, just keep in mind this sort of stuff has been going on for quite a while.

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  1. Andy Baio says:

    Turn of the century micropayments!