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Antique crank-operated cash register

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 a 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. ...


National Cash Register

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.

National Cash Register expressly built for a merchant in Nové Město nad Metují, Austro-Hungary, 1904

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]

In 1906, while working at the National Cash Register company, inventor Charles F. Kettering designed a cash register with an electric motor.

Various types of modern cash registers.

A leading designer, builder, manufacturer, seller and exporter of cash registers in the 1950s until the 1970s was London-based (and later Brighton-based[5]), Gross Cash Registers Ltd.[6], founded by brothers Sam and Henry Gross. Their cash registers were particularly popular around the time of decimalisation in Britain in early 1971, Henry having invented the only known model of cash register which could switch currencies from £sd to £p so that retailers could easily change from one to the other on or after Decimal Day.

In current use

Cash registers include a key labeled "NS", which is abbreviated for "No Sale", and opens the drawer, printing a receipt stating "No Sale" and recording it in the register log that the register was opened. Some other cash registers require a numeric password or physical key to be used when attempting to open the till. In some jurisdictions the law also requires customers to collect the receipt and keep it at least for a short while after leaving the shop,[citation needed] again to check that the shop records sales, so that it cannot evade sales taxes.

Often cash registers are attached to scales, barcode scanners, checkstands, and debit card or credit card terminals. Increasingly, dedicated cash registers are being replaced with general purpose computers with POS software.

Today, these machines scan the barcode (usually EAN or Universal Product Code (UPC)) for each item, retrieve the price from a database, calculate deductions for items on sale (or, in British retail terminology, "special offer", "multibuy" or "BOGOF"), calculate the sales tax or VAT, calculate differential rates for preferred customers, time and date stamp the transaction, record the transaction in detail including each item purchased, record the method of payment, keep totals for each product or type of product sold as well as total sales for specified periods, and do other tasks as well. These POS terminals will often also identify the cashier on the receipt, and carry additional information or offers.

Currently, many cash registers are individual computers. They may be DOS, Windows or Unix based. Many of them have touch screens. They may be connected to computerized Point of sale networks using any type of protocol. Such systems may be accessed remotely for the purpose of obtaining records or troubleshooting.

Cash register manufacturers include ELCOM, SAM4S, Casio, NCR, IBM, Panasonic, Samsung, Wincor-Nixdorf, Uniwell, United Bank Card, Sharp, TOWA MECCS, Datasym, Omron, JCM, Crisalid and Toshiba TEC Corporation.

Self checkout

Some supermarkets have introduced self-checkout machines, where the customer is trusted to scan the barcodes (or manually identify uncoded items like fruit), and place the items into a bagging area. The bag is weighed, and the machine halts the checkout when the weight of something in the bag doesn't match the weight in the inventory database. Normally, an employee is watching over several such checkouts to prevent theft or exploitation of the machines' weaknesses (e.g., intentional misidentification of expensive produce or dry goods). Payment on these machines is accepted by debit card/credit card, or cash via coinslot and bank note scanner. Store employees are also needed to authorise "age-restricted" purchases, such as alcohol, solvents or knives, which can either be done remotely by the employee observing the self-checkout, or by means of a "store login" which the operator has to enter.


Further reading


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CASH REGISTER, a species of calculating machine adapted for use in connexion with the cash-tills of shops, in order to provide a record of the money received. Such machines are made in great variety and widely used. Sometimes the records are constituted by holes punched in a roll of paper; in other cases they are shown on dials by the aid of adding mechanism. A common form has a number of keys, each representing a particular sum and each attached to a counting mechanism which records how many times it has been used. By pressing appropriate coma inations of these keys the amount of any purchase can be registered, and the combined records of all the counting mechanism give the total that has been passed through the machine in any selected period. Each key when pressed also raises an indicator which informs the customer how much he has to pay. In their more elaborate forms these cash registers may have a separate money-drawer for each assistant employed in the shop, thus enabling the proprietor to ascertain how many customers each man has served and how much money he has taken, and also to fix responsibility for mistakes, bad money, &c. The machines are also made to deliver a printed receipt for each purchase, showing the amount, date and assistant concerned, and they may be arranged to keep separate records of credit sales, money received on account, and money paid out.

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Simple English

[[File:|right|150px|Modern Cash registers]] A cash register, or till, is a machine that holds money. Cash registers are usually found in stores and restaurants. Sometime the cash register will only open if somebody is buying something. This is to try to stop the customer from stealing money from the employees. Most cash registers print a receipt for a proof of purchase.


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