A Journey Through the History of the Interactive Kiosk

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Self-service interactive kiosks may have been around for longer than you think – they’ve been widespread for well over 30 years. In fact, some argue the first interactive kiosk was the pay-per-page Xerox machine – first used in 1939!

Let us take you on a journey through the history of the interactive kiosk…

The 1960s

In the 1960s there were a few kiosks installed in the United States that allowed users to perform certain financial transactions. However, none of the kiosks lasted long due to the disinterest and distrust of the locals.

The first cash machine was installed in London in 1967, but it wasn’t until 1972 that the first automated teller machine (ATM), as we know it today, was put into use.

It was this ATM that first allowed variable amounts to be withdrawn and money to be deducted from the user’s account directly.

The creation of the modern ATM heralded great advances in the security of personal transactions with the introduction of ATM cards with magnetic strips and PIN numbers.

The 1970s

In 1970, IBM partnered with American Airlines and American Express to create and trial the world’s first self-service airline ticket vending kiosk.

In the early seventies the University Product Code (UPC) was created, which allowed grocery items to be scanned instead of manually input into the register. The creation and widespread use of the UPC further advanced the abilities for self-service checkout kiosks.

In 1977 the first self-service interactive kiosk, the ‘Plato Hotline‘, was used at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Created by students Murray Lappe and Donald Bitzer, the kiosk was used to provide information to university students about courses, bus schedules, on-campus events and more. Reportedly more than 30,000 people stood in line to try the Plato Hotline in its first six weeks of use.

The 1980s

In 1985, eight years after the introduction of the Plato Hotline, the first network of interactive kiosks was developed by the vice president of Florsheim Shoe Company.

This network grew to over 600 kiosks, connected via dial-up, and allowed customers to search for shoes in other stores if they weren’t in stock at the store the customer was in.

Users were able to pay for the shoes using the kiosks and have their purchase shipped directly to their house.

The 1990s

After the initial use of networked kiosks at Florsheim Shoe Co. kiosk usage grew exponentially and into many different areas of business.

In 1991 interactive kiosks were used commercially for locating missing children. Throughout the nineties technology continued to advance and self-service interactive kiosks became widespread.

Kiosks were used to rent videos, print airline boarding passes, provide information at museums, parks and historical sites, purchase and print movie tickets, order at restaurants, check-in hospital patients and pay for goods at supermarkets.

The 2000s

In 2007, the United States’ Virginia State Parks installed 31 interactive kiosks throughout their parks to provide visitors with information and maps. This was the first expansive, state-wide interactive kiosk program in the US and was launched by Imperial Multimedia.

The history of the interactive kiosk has been long and varied

Interactive kiosks have come a long way since their inception. The industry continues to make strides in providing services to its customers and is always improving its ability to provide safe, secure transactions.