The first gas pump was manufactured in Indiana during the 1880s. It contained a glass cylinder at the top so the consumer could see what he was getting. As the automobile became more common, visible gas pumps sprung up at service stations around the country. During the 1920s, it was normal for a station to have a glass cylinder at the pump that showed the gas coming up from an underground well.
Visible gas pumps were used so the consumer could see whether or not the gas he was getting was dirty. The problem remained even into the early invention of electric pumps. If a consumer saw dirty gas in the cylinder, he would stop pumping and select a different pump to finish the fueling process.