James Ritty owned the Pony House in Dayton, Ohio in the 1880s, where his customers included Buffalo Bill Cody, Jack Dempsey and John Dillinger. But the profits from Ritty’s saloon often went into his cashiers’ pockets instead of his own. In 1878, on a trip to Europe, he noticed a device on the ship that counted the propeller’s revolutions. It inspired Ritty to invent, with the help of his brother John, the cash register which they patented in 1879 as the “Ritty’s Incorruptible Cashier.” They added a bell that rang when the register was opened, introducing the Cha Ching! sound all business owners love to hear often.
But they did not market the cash machine much and in 1884 sold the idea to James and Frank Patterson for $6,500. The Pattersons made good use of it at their company called National Cash Register Company, now known as NCR Corporation. NCR was acquired by AT&T in 1991 for $7.4 billion.
The featured image, from NCR’s history pages, is Ritty’s first model of the cash register, on which the sales were displayed on a clock-like face. His later designs would include a cash drawer and paper roll for printing the registered cash exchanges.