Cash registers are one of the most important inventions for business and office work alongside typewriters, accounting machines and calculating machines. They developed from purely mechanical devices to a universal electronic data entry system. In addition to their conventional functions of tracking, securing and registering cash, they also handled tasks such as inventory levels.
The story of cash registers began in the USA in 1879. Together with his brother, James Ritty - a businessman - developed the first cash register in order to keep track of business transactions in his shop. The idea of designing a cash register came to him on a cruise, when he saw a device that counted the revolutions of the ship's propeller. However, the Ritty brothers failed to sell their cash registers in large quantities - largely because shop staff distrusted this "thief trap". After several unsuccessful attempts by various entrepreneurs to make cash registers a commercial success, John H. Patterson, a merchant, bought the rights to produce cash registers in 1884, and founded the National Cash Register Company (NCR).
He was one of the first industrialists to set up a school to train his sales staff, and taught sales techniques and held sales meetings. With advertising campaigns and trained representatives, he succeeded in making cash registers known in the retail sector. Within a few years NCR became the world's leading manufacturer of cash registers.
One reason for this success, alongside the new advertising strategy, was ongoing technological development of cash registers. Cash registers that printed receipts came onto the market in 1892. Cash registers with multiple adders for use in restaurants were also developed. Another milestone was the first cash register driven by an electric motor, which appeared in 1905.
In Germany, Anker in Bielefeld produced cash registers from 1900. They quickly became established. Anker was the only company to stand up to the pressure of competition from NCR. However, financial difficulties in restructuring the company led to its bankruptcy in 1976.