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"I think we could solve our problems more easily through strength of character; but that's always been a commodity in extremely short supply."
- Gregory Benford

Electric Menu  
  Ordering of food is automated, without waiters.  

I paused as we passed an automatic dinner service. With a nod she assented to my enquiring look and we passed inside. A courteous robot ushered us to our tables and placed the electric menu before us. We surveyed it, chose our requirements, and then pressed the corresponding buttons arranged at the side of the menu. Instantly the table top turned over and there was our meal upon metal plates. This “turnover” was effected by tremendous centrifugal force which naturally prevented the viands from hurtling off. I would mention here that the idea of tabloid food had never really attracted anybody, and the food of 2,000 was about the same as it had always been, save for the fact that there were many cultured, delicious dishes from future ages.
From Liners of Time, by John Russell Fearn.
Published by Amazing Stories in 1935
Additional resources -

I was going to do a Science Fiction in the News article on this Technovelgy item, but then I realized that it would be about ten years too late! I do know of one restaurant that still uses them, but they're just trying to get the last bit of value from the iPads they bought twelve years ago.

Anyway, here's how they work.

Today (2022), I think the latest incarnation of the "electric menu" is the digital menu, which you pull up on your phone using a QR code on the table.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Liners of Time
  More Ideas and Technology by John Russell Fearn
  Tech news articles related to Liners of Time
  Tech news articles related to works by John Russell Fearn

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