Cash register

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A cash register (US English) or till (British English) is a mechanical or electronic device for calculating and recording sales transactions, and an attached cash drawer for storing cash. The cash register also usually prints a receipt for the customer.

In most cases the drawer can be opened only after a sale, except when using special keys, which only senior employees and the owner have. This reduces the risk of employees stealing from the shop owner by not recording a sale and pocketing the money, when a customer does not need a receipt but has to be given change (cash is more easily checked against recorded sales than inventory). In fact, cash registers were first invented for the purpose of eliminating employee theft or embezzlement, and their original name was the Incorruptible Cashier[1]. It has also been suggested[1] that odd pricing came about because by charging odd amounts like 49 or 99 cents, the cashier very probably had to open the till for the penny change and thus announce the sale.



In the form of chest, used to segregate small items.


The first cash register was invented by James Ritty following the American Civil War. He was the owner of a saloon in Dayton, Ohio, USA, and wanted to stop employees from pilfering his profits. He invented the Ritty Model I in 1879 after seeing a tool that counted the revolutions of the propeller on a steamship.[2] With the help of John Ritty, his brother, he patented it in 1883.[3]

The first registers were entirely mechanical, without receipts. The employee was required to ring up every transaction on the register, and when the total key was pushed, the drawer opened and a bell would ring, alerting the manager to a sale taking place. Those original machines were nothing but simple adding machines.

Shortly after his patent, Ritty became overwhelmed with the responsibilities of running two businesses, so he sold all of his interests in the cash register business to Jacob H. Eckert of Cincinnati, a china and glassware salesman, who formed the National Manufacturing Company. In 1884 Eckert sold the company to John H. Patterson, who renamed the company the National Cash Register Company and improved the cash register by adding a paper roll to record sales transactions, thereby creating the receipt. The original purpose of the receipt was enhanced fraud protection. The business owner could read the receipts to ensure that cashiers charged customers the correct amount for each transaction and did not pilfer the cash drawer.[4]

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