In today’s time, it is common to find POS (point-of-sale) machines or sometimes, a more capable POS setup even in a small shop. Tech advancements in the field of digital payments and the encouragement given by the Indian government to cashless economy has meant that more and more shops and retail units are moving towards embracing the digital way of managing their establishment. No wonder , today, having an effective POS solution that can not only help you handle money, stay organized, maintain customer relations but can also help you in outreach is critical.

Ever wondered as to how the journey began for POS? How it has evolved from its humble origins as a cash register to today’s smart solution that can handle complex operations? Well, let’s dive into the history of POS to figure this out!

James Ritty, a successful saloon owner in Dayton, was aboard a ship to Europe in 1878 where he saw a machine that counted the number of times the ship’s propeller completed a revolution. He realized he could devise a machine to keep track of sales at his shop using the same technology, to stop his employees from stealing money from the business.

A year later, he invented the “Incorruptible Cashier”, a mechanical precursor to the cash register that we know today.  It didn’t have a cash drawer and only recorded the number of sales and the amount each transaction made. It helped Ritty keep a close track on his sales, thereby discouraging employees from stealing from the money box.

Ritty patented his invention but didn’t see much financial gain from it as business owners didn’t see value in it back then. He sold his patent to Jacob Eckert, founder of National Manufacturing Company (NMC). NMC was later sold to John H. Patterson, who renamed it as the National Cash Register (NCR) in 1884. It was in NCR that the cash register evolved with new features such as cash drawers for employees, paper rolls for printing receipts, etc. These features were instrumental to the rapid adoption of cash registers by business owners to record transactions and manage revenue.

In the early 1900s, NCR developed the first cash register powered by an electric motor. Electronic registers significantly sped up transactions, but they worked independently of each other. Thus owners of large stores had to get the totals from each register to get the total daily sales. Later, in the mid-1900s, technological advancements such as LCDs, thermal printing, etc. helped cash registers evolve into the point-of-sale systems of today.

IBM released the first POS system in 1973, which could control up to 128 cash registers. Touchscreen displays were introduced in 1986. With the advent of personal computers in the 1900s, the idea of fully automated retail stores started to take ground. Throughout the 90s, POS systems got a whole new makeover with the technology and internet boom, like the inclusion of barcode scanners, PC-Based POS systems, store automation, signature capture, and credit card devices.  

Over the years, POS systems have evolved from simple mechanical cash registers to full-fledged retail management software that helps business owners automate and manage a host of retail functions – inventory, transactions and sales, customer relationships, reporting, etc. all from one single platform. With the dawn of the 2000s, POS systems have gone mobile, resulting in a marked improvement in customer shopping experience.

The modern POS system operates in the cloud, making it easy for merchants to track and check their store operations anytime, anywhere. Features such as loyalty programs, employee productivity tracking, and multiple payment methods go a long way in optimizing store output and enriching customer experience. The journey so far, for POS systems, has been interesting. We believe, the evolution will continue and we will see many more features coming up and POS solutions becoming as common as mobile phones.