Great stories behind common objects: the Cash Register

When thinking about cash register excitement is probably not the first adjective that would come up. Other definition such as reliability, safeness and efficiency are more likely to be associated with cash register. But as most things in the world, appearances can be deceptive.

Looking back in history, more precisely in 1878, the story around the first cash register looks actually intriguing and full of curiosities. First of all, the first cash register was invented by Jacob Ritty, a barkeeper who opened his first saloon in Dayton, Ohio. Thus far, nothing really exciting. But if we take a look at the names of the customers that used to go to his saloon, things start to become exciting: among them we find Buffalo Bill Cody, bank robber John Dillinger and prizefighter Jack Dempsey.

Another interesting fact related to cash register is where Jacob Ritty had the inspiration for the creation of this machine: while he was having a trip on a ship, he noticed a mechanism that counted how many times the ship´s propeller went around. Looking at it, Ritty had the epiphany to start building a similar mechanism that could allow him to solve the problems he was encountering in his saloon. As a matter of fact, before the invention of the cash register, money at the bar were handled and managed by the waiters and not all of them were honest and reliable.

Cash registers had such an impact on human history that have been adopted by any owner of any kind shop that had to manage the flow of money coming into his/her pockets. As any other invention cash register has been improved in the years and newer versions of it are still coming out. However, cash registers have been such an important part of our history that nowadays the old versions of it have been re-discovered and are actually considered being piece of design. As all the objects of that kind, old cash registers are now considered as antiques and are now exchanged as precious pieces for collections.

The oldest pieces are currently sold on the major websites of private selling and some of them are reaching unbelievable high prices: recently, a cash register from 1882 (only four years after the first prototype was invented) has been exchanged for $2000!

To conclude, cash registers may encounter future developments, it may change its shape and functions, but the great story behind it, the story about the man that thought about it while being on a ship and that used it to cash in the money “honestly earned” by John Dillinger, will lay in it forever.

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