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The origins of the cash register

WHEN THE NEEDS COME FROM A TECHNOLOGY ABLE TO CHANGE THE WORLD

"A cash register or just an automatic cash machine is a mechanical or electronic device to calculate and save sales transactions, normally combined with a drawer to store money ordered according to the various denominations". (Wikipedia)

Everybody knows the meaning of cash register, but what the definition does not say is how the need of sales operations calculation and saving was born.

It all started after the American Civil War: around 1879, after Abraham Lincoln's Proclamation of Emancipation, James Jacob Ritty was the owner of the Pony House saloon in Dayton (Ohio, US), attended by celebrities such as William Frederick "Buffalo Bill" Cody.

Mr. Ritty was a practical and sophisticated businessman for that time period, but did not trust the honesty of his employees and could not bear the risk that some money could be stolen and dishonestly pocketed.

So we arrive to the need able to stimulate human inventiveness, which in this case lead to the famous exclamation "eureka" during a journey to Europe. On the ship, in fact, Mr. Ritty noticed the use of a kind of a fuel output counter, so - once back at home - James built a kind of watch with keyboard.

This first attempt was not successful, however it was patented for Ohio on November 4, 1879 with the name "Ritty Model I". In 1883 the patent was registered for the US after the improvement of the invention with the help of James' brother, John.

Later on, Ritty brothers founded in Dayton a company to manufacture cash registers, the National Manufacturing Company, but - without time or energy to manage it - they sold it to John Patterson, who changed its name into National Cash Register Company ( NCR Corporation).

The city of Dayton, a few years later, was the cradle of another historic invention: Wright brothers found in this city the conditions for the success of their first motored flight, but that's another story...

Published on 03/03/2016 in Technological Innovations

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