James Ritty was a frustrated saloon owner from Dayton, Ohio. He was fed up with employees nabbin’ his profits. So he did what any red-blooded American would do: he invented the first cash register—“Ritty’s Incorruptible Cashier”—in 1879. With the help of his brother John Ritty, he patented it in 1883.
Every employee was required to put a transaction into the register. When the total key was pushed, the drawer would slide open and a bell would ring, alerting the manager to a sale taking place. It had a locked compartment that tallied the total receipts, but did not include a paper receipt to give to customers.
The two brothers went out of business by 1884, but James sold their interests to Jacob H. Eckert, who formed the National Manufacturing company. In 1884, Eckert sold the company to good guy John Henry Patterson, who renamed it “The National Cash Register Company”.
Patterson was a rare business owner that cared about his employees. He gave woman workers coffee and soup for lunch, supplied actual chairs with back support; provided indoor bathrooms, a doctor’s office, and a ventilation system to circulate clean air.
He improved the register by adding a paper roll to record transactions, creating the first receipt. This discouraged employee misconduct, as business owners could read the receipts and and ensure that cashiers didn’t over or under charge customers, or steal money from the cash drawers.
Dime Store Days | Fremont, Nebraska
SourcesNational Cash Register Company - Ohio History Central Cash Register - Wikipedia 1904 Replica of the Ritty Model 1 Cash Register - National Museum of American History