A Brief History of POS

Did you know the first cash register made in 1879 did not have a cash drawer? Yes sirree, this device was solely designed to keep track of the value and number of transactions – as to combat tally shortfalls by light-fingered staff from the cash box. The first machine was entirely mechanical and was dubbed: “Ritty’s Incorruptible Cashier”.  

In 1884 James Ritty sold the patent (granted the previous year). Later John Henry Patterson bought this patent and company and renamed the business as the National Cash Register Company – today we know this enterprise as NCR and it is the global pioneer of the Point Of Sale (POS) industry.

The first cash register was invented by James Ritty following the American Civil War. He was the owner of a saloon in Ohio, 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. With the help of John Ritty, his brother, he patented it in 1883.

With the cash register becoming the single source of truth for the business owners, staff and customer business boomed in the early twentieth century. Cash registers got bigger and more ornate and were a treasured piece of equipment set on the shopkeepers’ countertop.

Adding A Bell To The POS Alerted The Store Manager To Money Being Added To A Cash Box Next To The Register Machine

NCR employee Charles F. Kettering Kettering invented the electric cash register in 1906, which made ringing up sales physically much easier for sales clerks.

During his five years at NCR, from 1904 to 1909, Kettering secured 23 patents for NCR. He attributed his success to a good amount of luck but added, “I notice the harder I work, the luckier I get.”

The NCR corporation also went on to invent the magnetic credit card strip and self check-out machines and refined the initial patent of the cash register to include a drawer to hold money and a paper roll for receipts. 

By the fifties, the retail industry exploded and business was booming as manufacturing increased post-second war. As a result, every well-respected business updated their Point of purchase machine to a modern model – that was electric and used liquid crystal display (LCD) screens, buttons replaced keys, credit card magnetic stripes, and thermal printing was popular options.

Doshii NCR POS

By the 1970s technology companies like IBM had identified retail and payments as an industry ready to adapt to their electronic cash register which is recognisable as a modern POS solution today.

The cash register now went from a glorified calculator with a drawer, to a powerful device that enabled large retail outlets to track sales, minimise register errors, collect inventory data and provide better service at the counter. In 1979 the bar code became widely used to be read by the scanner at goods receiving and checkouts to increment, decrease, price, track or replace stock. Software became sophisticated and by 1981 the first restaurant-specific POS was released. 

Fun Fact: A packet of Wrigleys Juicy Fruit chewing gum was the first item to be bar code scanned

Doshii API Barcode QR Code

In the mid-1980s touch screen was unveiled for the hospitality industry.

A decade later the operating system for POS was Microsoft Windows platform and later the Microsoft Opos retail platform was released. This is the API which connected many POS terminals with the retailers Point of Sale solution.

The First API Connected POS to Merchant Payments

OPOS, full name OLE for Retail POS, a platform-specific implementation of UnifiedPOS, is a point of sale device standard for Microsoft Windows operating systems that was initiated by Microsoft, NCR, Epson, and Fujitsu-ICL and is managed by the Association for Retail Technology Standards. The OPOS API was first published in January 1996. The standard uses component object model and, because of that, all languages that support COM controls (i.e. Visual C++, Visual Basic, and C#) can be used to write applications.

The OPOS standard specifies two levels for an OPOS control, the control object which presents an abstract hardware interface to a family of devices such as receipt printer and the service object which handles the interface between the control object and the actual physical device such as a specific model of the receipt printer. This division of functionality provides a way for the application development to write to an abstract hardware interface while allowing the application to work with a variety of different hardware. The only requirement is that a hardware vendor supplies an OPOS compatible service object with their particular hardware offering.

Typically a manufacturer of point of sale terminals will provide along with a terminal operating system an OPOS control object package with a software utility that is used to configure OPOS settings. Such a utility will specify the settings for an OPOS control object and indicate the service object to be used with a particular OPOS profile. When the point of sale application starts up, it loads the OPOS control object and the OPOS control object, in turn, loads the service object specified by the current OPOS profile. The Windows Registry is typically used as the persistent store for device settings. The hardware device manufacturer will normally provide a utility for device-specific settings used by the service object.

In 2010 the iPad became a popular mobile device to feature in stores and restaurants and the software to run the preferred POS solution relies on connectivity to remain in the cloud. Transactions occur in real-time and payments can be taken at the table or away from the counter.

Starrtec Tablet API Integration Image Doshii

Since 2016 POS has become the centre of an omnichannel platform that can connect and integrate with a number of useful Apps and management tools for venues to customise their customers experience and manage their staff, inventory, reputation, loyalty programs, pricing and analytics. 

Doshii Omni-channel POS

Observation: With the world becoming less dependent of coins and notes and most transactions now occurring via debit, credit cards or mobile wallets the cash register may no longer require a cash drawer at all in the near future.

With Doshii venues are able to connect to what matters to them most. Seamlessly processing bookings, orders, payments, gift cards and providing analytics from their point of sale system.

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