When the department store A.J. Freiman announced in May 1950 its plan to bring “push button” shopping to the small town of Pembroke, Canada, newspapers across North America were baffled. The New York-based Women’s Wear Daily informed its readers that “no indication is given as to what precisely the project is, and inquiries at the Ottawa store elicit no further details for the time being.” The only information the reporters received was a cryptic press release that noted A.J. Freiman’s pride in presenting “for the first time anywhere this great retail innovation.” The new brand of store, the press release added, would be dubbed the “Vis-O-Matic.”
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