First Cash Register

James S. Ritty, of Dayton, in 1879 invented the cash register, simplifying business transactions for the world’s storekeepers and consumers. John H. Patterson bought the patent on that first machine, known as "Ritty’s Incorruptible Cashier," made improvements, and founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio.

Before the widespread use of cash registers it was difficult for merchants to have a clear record of what they had sold and what their profits were.  In addition to serving as a place to store money from transactions, it also provided a system for keeping track of profit and loss and determining a shop's balance at the end of a business day.

Patterson's Legacy

Patterson also made progress in terms of developing and training a sales force.  He developed selling techniques that are used to this day, and also implemented employee training. National Cash Register opened its "School of Instruction" for salesmen in 1893. Patterson was also concerned about health and education programs for employees and attempted to create positive work environments.  He developed many programs along these lines including: neighborhood improvement programs, recreational opportunities, and continuing education.

Patterson was an avid photographer as well.  He captured images from around the world,  many of which are currently available at Dayton History. Over 1.5 million images were left by Patterson and his successors -- including 100,000 glass plate negatives and 68,000 magic lantern slides. Dayton History has published a book, "Dayton Comes of Age" available here, which features 156 images carefully chosen from glass plate negatives dating from 1897 to 1922, the year of Patterson’s death.

Did You Know?

  • In 1906, Charles F. Kettering designed the first cash register that was powered by an electric motor.
  • In 1974, the National Cash Register Company changed its name to NCR Corporation.

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