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"The best fuzzy rules, the best knowledge, deal with the turning points of the system. If a race-car driver teaches you how to drive, you don't need him to show you how to drive on the straightaway. It's how he handles the curves that matters."
- Bart Kosko

Nutri-Matic  
  A drink dispenser that scans the person to determine what might go down well.  

Arthur Dent has had a difficult day. Perhaps a beverage?

He had found a Nutri-Matic machine which had provided him with a plastic cup filled with a liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea. The way it functioned was very interesting. When the Drink button was pressed it made an instant but highly detailed examination of the subject's taste buds, a spectroscopic examination of the subject's metabolism and then sent tiny experimental signals down the neural pathways to the taste centers of the subject's brain to see what was likely to go down well. However, no one knew quite why it did this because it invariably delivered a cupful of liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.
From The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams.
Published by Harmony Books in 1979
Additional resources -

Machines that create food (without cooking) have a long and honorable history in science fiction. Compare the Nutri-Matic with the synthetic food dispenser from John W. Campbell's 1934 story Twilight and the food factory from Frederik Pohl's 1980 novel Beyond the Blue Event Horizon.

Apparently, people were not entirely happy with the output from the Nutri-Matric:

The Nutri-Matic was designed and manufactured by the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation whose complaints department now covers all the major landmasses of the first three planets in the Sirus Tau Star system.

Thanks to Erik Nodacker for suggesting this item.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  More Ideas and Technology by Douglas Adams
  Tech news articles related to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  Tech news articles related to works by Douglas Adams

Nutri-Matic-related news articles:
  - Dr. Whippy Ice Cream Machine Makes Sure You're Happy
  - Unilever Smile-Based Ice Cream Vending Machine
  - Kiosk Looks At You, Then Decides On Your Meal

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Sample The In Vitro Meat Cookbook

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