Internet Coke Machine

Legends & Myths >

The final piece of the puzzle was needed to let people check Coke status when they were logged in on some other machine than CMUA. CMUA’s Finger server was modified to run the Coke status program whenever someone fingered the nonexistent user “coke”. (For the uninitiated, Finger normally reports whether a specified user is logged in, and if so where.)

Since Finger requests are part of standard ARPANET (now Internet) protocols, people could check the Coke machine from any CMU computer by saying “finger coke@cmua”. In fact, you could discover the Coke machine’s status from any machine anywhere on the Internet! Not that it would do you much good if you were a few thousand miles away…

– CMU Coke Machine; The “Only” Coke Machine on the Internet.

Beginning with the CMU coke machine, a number of people have connected pop and coffee machines to the Internet.

The Internet Coke Machine is not a myth, but it is a legend. The first pop machine was connected to the Internet in 1982 at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science in Pittsburgh by four exercise challenged but ingenious graduate students, Mike Kazar, David Nichols, John Zsarnay, and Ivor Durham, so they could check from their desks if the machine was loaded with cold coke. More information can be found at the CME SCS Coke Machine Home Page.

Resources. In other news from the surprisingly rich field of beverage machine virtual connections:

  • The University of Cambridge took the next step by connecting the Trojan Room Coffee Machine to the Internet in 1992.
  • RFC 2324 provides a specification for a Hyper Text Coffee Pot Control Protocol, published 1 April 1998.