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Was This $200 Vending Machine the World’s First Bitcoin ATM?

Was This $200 Vending Machine the World’s First Bitcoin ATM?

As a part of a university project in 2012, student Max Albrecht designed a cryptocurrency vending machine that converted €1 coins into bitcoin.

This low-tech version of a bitcoin ATM was built with a modest budget of €150 (around $200 at today’s prices). Furthermore, it was created not as part of a tech, business or computing course, but as an art installation.

To create his ATM, Albrecht bought a second-hand vending machine that cost him roughly €80 ($110). He printed out both private keys and links to individual online wallets, put the paper slips in small cardboard boxes, and put those in the vending machine.

A customer would simply need to insert a coin to get a voucher for their euro’s-worth of bitcoin, which was stored on The printout also explained what to do with the link, so that newbies could become familiar with bitcoin transactions.

With bitcoin ATMs now popping up all over the world, Albrecht is wondering if his creation was in fact the world’s first bitcoin ATM.

Inspired by crisis

While studying Fine Arts at Bauhaus University in Weimar, Germany, one of Albrecht’s assignments was to create an installation that fit the theme of ‘Panta Rhei’ (‘Everything Flows’).

As a part of the course, the students took an excursion to Greece, which had recently been hard hit by the financial crisis. Keeping both of those aspects in mind, Albrecht came up with the concept of the bitcoin vending machine.

“The instability of the euro was part of my inspiration at the time. I thought it would be nice to have an artwork that could address the fact that we have a currency in Europe which is dwindling.”

While the Euro was getting weaker in 2012, bitcoin was ‘soaring’ at $9 apiece. People were starting to hear about bitcoin, but there weren’t many places to spend it at the time.



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This entry was posted on March 20, 2014 by .

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