Who would have thought that the humble parking meter has a patent on it and is almost 80 years old? The parking meeting is used by municipalities to enforce their parking rules and to generate income for the city that uses them. However, there are concerns in some jurisdictions about the legality of parking meters if they are used for revenue raising as opposed to the enforcement of the parking regulations. The first parking meter was installed in Oklahoma City in 1935. It was first patented in 1928 by Roger Babson, but that was somewhat impractical. Work began in Oklahoma City in 1933 to develop a more practical working one.
Apparently the very first court challenge to a parking ticket was in Oklahoma and followed the issuing of the very first ever parking ticket! The city lost and had to rescind the parking ticket. Eventually the courts ruled in favour of the rights of municipalities to use parking meters to enforce their parking regulations. The coin operated parking meters went into commercial production soon after this in 1936 and continued until at least the mid-1980s with very little change in the design, configuration and the actual mechanics of how they worked. Over time, there has been plenty of emphasis on upgrading the security of these devices with the municipalities usually only staying just one step ahead of the vandals. These days the parking meter is largely being replaced by full electronic versions rather than the original mechanical versions. These allow for the acceptance of coins, notes, credit and debit cards rather than just the coins of the previous versions. Multi-bay systems that allow for displays of coupons have taken over the use of the single bay parking meters. In the future there is likely to be a move towards in-vehicle parking meters which are displayed in windows and payment made automatically and electronically.