The Robot store from 1963

The Robot store from 1963

As a web merchant, you are always aware that the future is now, and that you’d better keep up. But some ideas, such as this robot store, were so far ahead of their time that although they sounded fantastic, they have disappeared completely. Or have they?

In 1963 grocer AC van Beveren opened in the Dutch town of Boxtel a robotic Day & Night store that was open 24 hours a day and was fully automated.

A robot with the fabulous name “Neomaticc” offered a choice of 250 different products.

The shop was quite small, so there was only room for a stock of 5000 products. The robot was built in Germany, and the grocery paid 40,000 Dutch guilders for it. Equipped with knobs and lights that showed messages such as “payment is registered” and “the chosen product comes” it was the perfect 1960’s robot.

Experts then predicted that within 10 years these stores would be everywhere. They would sell everything from vegetables to meat and vegetables. A newspaper correspondent noted that although it would be very convenient, it was also very impersonal, and had a bit of a cold feeling to it.

The store is now no more, as it was apparently not too successful. Too bad, because I would have loved to look around in this real 1960’s retro style automated shop. That year people apparently came by bus from far away to see the miracle machine.

No staff and open 24 hours a day. Except on Sundays, because in Boxtel shop opening hours restrictions were in place. You had to manually select the product number, insert your money and get the cigarettes, sweets or sandwiches from a drawer. Behind the scenes, the selected product fell onto a conveyor belt and was transported to the receptacle.

But in a case of history repeating itself. In the city of Den Bosch, a twenty minute drive away, a new fully automated store recently opened. The same idea but with 21st-century automation. No staff and open day and night. Except on Sundays.


  • De Telegraaf, 31-10-1963
  • Dutch Institute for Sound and Vision