When was the first cash register invented? Part 1

Although in today’s world paying at the cash register is a very common activity, it is interesting to know when and why it was invented – so let’s go back in time!


October 4, 2022

In the middle of the 19th century, merchants had small boxes with 2 compartments – one for paper money, the other for loose change, but they were not cash registers, quite simple money storage boxes that every merchant had at that time. After the factory revolution, sales increased, so it was important to keep accurate revenue records.

The first person to try to automate checkout processes was David Brown. In 1875, he invented device for transporting items and cash. This apparatus consisted of a rope with a basket attached to the ceiling.

However, the inventor of the first real cash register in the world is considered to be american James Ritty, who was known as a merchant of good whiskey, wine and cigarettes. He was the owner of the Pony House Bar in Ohio. At that time, the bar was located near the station and among the visitors were several notable personalities. Over time, the bar staff began to embezzle the money, so James had to look for a solution to keep up with the profits.

On a trip to Europe, James’ attention was drawn to a device that counted every revolution of a steamship’s engine, a principle James wanted to use for revenue accounting as well. Shortly after that, in 1883, together with his brother John Ritty, he patented the first cash register in the world under the name “Ritty’s incorruptible cash register”.

It consisted of two rows of keys with a dial and two arrows, each operation was recorded on the disk. Ritty’s bar profits increased rapidly, and the new cash register attracted more and more visitors who were excited about the new invention.

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