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In 1937, a Memphis, Tenn., grocer and innovator named Clarence Saunders introduced a bold new concept in shopping for food: History’s first fully automated grocery store. It was called Keedoozle. (See the explanation of the unusual moniker below.) In 1948, photographer Francis Miller traveled to Memphis in order to document the third incarnation of Saunders’s technological phenomenon.
TIME magazine, meanwhile, reported on the groundbreaking operation thusly:
At least, that’s how it was all supposed to go down, in theory. Saunders tried the Keedoozle concept three times, but failed each time because the circuits couldn’t handle the traffic during peak hours. Customers regularly got mixed-up orders. In addition, the conveyer-belt system wasn’t fast enough or efficient enough when there was high demand. Keedoozle closed its doors for good in 1949.