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History of the Office and Office Equipment: A Resource Guide

Cash Registers

Carol M. Highsmith. Cash register inside the apothecary, an early form of a pharmacy, at the Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, VT. 2017. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

The cash register was developed by James Jacob Ritty, a saloon keeper in Ohio, with the issuance of patent 221,360. Ritty sold the invention, and eventually, John Henry Patterson and his brother Frank Jefferson Patterson bought it and named their company National Cash Register Company (NCR). In the 20th century the cash register evolved with the increasing use of credit cards and the 21st century has brought a growth in electronic banking through individual smart phones and payment processing and money transfers. The cash register is now less a single mechanical machine and is often a networked computer hooked up to payment and inventory systems hundreds of miles away.

The books included here look at the machines themselves as well as some of the larger manufacturers of cash registers. Anyone interested in doing more research on the companies may want to visit the company's website. Those companies that made a significant contribution to an industry, technology, etc. frequently include on their website timelines, images, written histories, and other items that may be of interest. You may also find the websites of collectors and other enthusiasts helpful for your research. They often have great information and detailed knowledge of their collectible items that can be hard to find in more traditional sources. We have additional resources in our entry on the cash register that is part of This Month in Business History.

Lastly, if you are looking for images, searching "cash register" on the Library of Congress home page will reveal many images of cash registers, among them images of the National Cash Register Company's facility In Dayton, OH taken by William Henry Jackson for Detroit Publishing Co. in 1902.

The following materials link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to digital content are provided when available.