In 1879, James Ritty, a saloon owner in Dayton, Ohio, patented the first mechanical cash register. The purpose of the invention was to stop dishonest employees from helping themselves to extra cash from the cash drawer when no one was looking. In 1884 John H. Patterson bought the patent for the cash register and formed the National Cash Register Company.
The company grew rapidly and in 1886 expanded abroad. The British office was established at 95 The Strand in London under the name National Cash Register Till Company. In the same year, the first cash registers in Britain were used at the refreshment stands at the International Exhibition in Liverpool.
In 1895 the company became styled the National Cash Register Co. Ltd. with headquarters at 337 The Strand.
John Patterson died in 1922 and by that year his company had sold more than 2 million cash registers.
During the First World War, the firm manufactured shell fuses and aircraft instrumentation, and during the Second World War it built aero-engines, bomb sights and code-breaking machines.
The National Cash Register Co. became a major post-war force in developing new computing and communications technology. In 1953 the company created a specialised electronics division and in 1956 introduced the Class 29 Post-Tronic, a bank machine using magnetic tape technology. The firm manufactured its first transistor-board computer in 1957 called the NCR 304.
In 1974 the company commercialised the first bar code scanners and changed its name to the NCR Corporation.
In 1982 the first NCR Tower super micro computer system was launched, establishing NCR as a pioneer in bringing industry standard and open system architecture to the computer market.
In 1991 NCR was acquired by AT&T. A restructuring of AT&T in 1996 led to NCR’s re-establishment as a separate company.
Today NCR is a hardware, software and electronics company. Its main products are self-service kiosks, automated teller machines, cheque processing systems and barcode scanners.