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From Money Boxes to Mobile apps: The History of POS systems


Learn more about the history of POS systems from money boxes to mobile apps and till systems. Find out more about POS system evolution.

The History of POS systems

POS systems predate automobiles, telephones and even antibiotics. Its rudimentary form simply involved the bartering of goods and evolved into hand-to-hand cash transactions which involved basic accounting. Let's have a look at the history of POS systems.

To – date POS systems allow retailers as well as businesses to track customer metrics, manage inventory and incorporate a variety of locations and channels into one system.

This blog provides a brief history of the tool many retail businesses use to collect money from customers at the time they purchase goods.

Cowboys & Money Boxes

The age of Cowboys and Indians saw the POS system in its most primitive form – The Money Box. This was as simple as shop owners knowing the price of products in their store, keeping credit accounts in a handbook with a pencil and sealing transactions with a hand shake. At the end of the day shop owner would count their stock.

The very 1st Cash Register

The late 1800’s saw the birth of the first cash register. In 1879 a dealer of whisky, fine wines and assorted cigars named James Ritty invented the first cash register which he dubbed the ‘Incorruptible Cashier’. This device registered transactions and removed the manual labour of having to record them by hand.

The idea behind Ritty’s invention was to reduce the likelihood of theft through semi-automated transaction tracking. After he patented his device he sold it to a salesman named Jacob Eckert – the founder of the National Manufacturing Company (NMC).

The NMC was then sold to John Patterson – a coal shop owner who then renamed the company ‘National Cash Register’. The NCR further developed the original device to include custom employee drawers, bells, and all – important receipts.

Electricity meets POS

The early 1900’s saw the introduction of electric POS systems by the NCR by inventor Charles F. Kettering. In 1906 Kettering developed the first cash register powered by an electric motor. The device allowed for a faster, easier, and more effective sales & transaction management process.

The mid 1900’s saw more improvements to Kettering’s advancements. Furthermore, the NCR streamlined their sales and marketing processes making the cash register a necessity in almost all retail stores.

The Age of Computerisation

The first computerised cash register was developed in the 1970s. Both credit card terminals and touchscreen displays were also introduced at the same time.

It was the 80’s and 90’s that saw the development of the first barcode scanners, PC-based POS systems and credit card devices.

Entering the 2000’s

The 2000s saw the introduction of the first mobile point of sale (mPOS) devices. These devices were such a success that by 2014 53% of UK retailers rated them the most essential device for in-store transactions.

Throughout the 2000s POS systems have evolved to accommodate retail management solutions with features including; inventory, reporting, customer, and e-commerce management from a single platform.

With time mPOS systems became sleeker and location independent. Smart devices such as tablets and phones have replaced cash registers in their rudimentary forms, with an improved shopping experience.

The independent nature of mPOS systems allows retailers to take the shopping experience directly to their customers or set up shop where ever they wish.

These solutions come with them an incredible futuristic advancement – cloud technology. This allows retailers to ring up sales and track all of their transactions wherever they are.

The most accommodating quality of these futuristic solutions is that they are almost 3 times cheaper than the traditional cash register.The brightest future!

The brightest future!

With the introduction of cloud-based technology the future of POS systems further brightens the prospects for businesses of all shapes and sizes. You can find out more about the history of POS systems with us at 3S POS.

Continuous centralisation and integrative advancements in cloud-based POS systems will accommodate better sales, inventory, as well as customer platforms irrespective of location or channels.

The future sees these systems allowing retailers to manage various channels and outlets from one platform. Furthermore, retail devices such as; sensors, terminals, kiosks, and screens will eventually be integrated into POS systems. 

Further advancements will see the introduction of AI into the shopping experience, customer purchasing analytics, touchscreens and more.

The possibilities for further development are thus bound by what developers can imagine.

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