History of the Cash Register
On January 30, 1883, James Ritty, a saloonkeeper in
Dayton, Ohio, and John Birch received a patent for
inventing the cash register. James Ritty invented what
was nicknamed the "Incorruptible Cashier" or the first
working, mechanical cash register. The machine used
metal taps with denominations pressed into them to
indicate the amount of the sale. There was a bell to
ring up sales. It also had a total adder that summed all
the cash values of the key presses during a day. His
invention came with that familiar bell sound referred to
in advertising as "The Bell Heard Round the World".
After reading a description of the cash register
designed by James Ritty and sold by the National
Manufacturing Company, John H Patterson purchased
several machines for use in his retail store. Later he
decided to buy both the company and the cash register
patent for $6500. He renamed the company the National
Cash Register Company in 1884. Patterson's, eccentric
and aggressiveness, made him a successful businessman.
Eighty four companies sold cash registers between 1888
and 1895, only three survived for any length of time.
With Patterson's desire to create bigger, better and
more thief proof registers, his company was the most
successful of all cash register companies in the late
1800's to early 1900's.
Patterson continued to improve on Ritty's cash register
invention, adding spare rolls to reconcile the day's
transactions in each price range. This worked by
building a hole puncher into each cash register while
the paper would have separate invisible columns that
would stand for cents and dollars. If the paper had two
holes punched in dollars column, for example, and 50
holes punched in the cents column, the total would be
Two dollars + fifty cents. When a transaction was
completed, a bell rang on the cash register + the amount
was stored on a large dial on the front of the machine.
During each sale, a paper tape was punched with holes so
that the merchant could keep track of sales. At the end
of the day, the merchant could add up the holes and
therefore his daily cash. In 1906 a cash register was
designed with an electric motor, which made it the first
powered cash register.
During the period 1888 to 1915 the cash register,
clothed in fancy cast-metal cases, spread into nearly
every retail establishment. This period is best typified
by the cast brass-encased cash registers, many of which
are still available in antique markets today.
There were cash registers made of materials other than
brass. Cast-iron, wood, and even metal stampings were
used. Finishes included polished brass, nickel-plate,
antiqued copper, paint, and even silver and gold plate.
Brass dominated the National Cash Register Company line,
which grew to represent 95% of the total market.
It is difficult to imagine any type of store without a
cash register. Yet before 1879, merchants had no such
equipment. Few business owners actually knew if they
were operating at a profit or a loss. No wonder then,
that cash registers became such a boon to companies. Not
only were cash registers theft deterrents, they were
instruments of a new analytical approach which resulted
in a systematized use of information to produce profits.
Throughout the 1900's many advances have been made in
cash registers. Not only have they become harder for
thieves to steal, they have made retail and restaurant
commerce much easier and more profitable for business
owners. Today options such as touch screen computers,
scanning of thousands of inventory items, processing
credit cards, and printing of items to kitchen printers
make the success of business ownership and management
much more efficient and effective.
Many Cash Register companies produce, market, and sell
cash registers today. Some of those cash register
companies include Samsung, Sam4s, Sharp Electronics, Casio,
Royal, TEC, and Sanyo.
During the last several years the cash register industry
has changed dramatically with the introduction of Point
of Sale Systems, or computerized cash registers. These
Point of Sale Systems are used in all types of industry,
but are prevalent in Retail Stores and Restaurants. The
Point of Sale Systems, or computerized cash registers
use touchscreen point of sale terminals, allow for
scanning of items for easy checkouts, allow customers to
process credit cards and gift cards with a one step
operation and allow business owners to keep inventory of
their items. With the recent changes in technology in
the Cash Register and Point of Sale industries, we can
expect many great things to happen in the future.