This strange looking device is actually the first working mechanical cash register
with "The Bell Heard Round the World". With these machines John H. Patterson launched
The National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio in 1884.
Paint, polish and poster with message "Stop the forgotten charge, use a National
Cash Register" were travelling advertisements for the company.
NCR's 1,000,000th machine was this Class 500 floor model cash register which was
manufactured in the Dayton plant in 1911. Charles F. Kettering added the electric
motor to the cash register in 1906 before moving to General Motors to fit the electric
self-starter to the Cadillac motorcar. The elegant cast brass cabinetry would disappear
as the brass was needed for artillery shells during World War I and would not be
By 1911 "The Cash" employed some 5,900 people and would produce their 2,000,000th
unit in 1922.
The company became multi-national in 1886 and would soon be doing business in 121
The Class 2000 was introduced in 1921 and was produced in numerous forms as charge
posters, bank proof and accounting machines as well as cash registers. Except for
the war years, it enjoyed continuous production until 1973.
In the late '50s variations of the 2000 and other models were coupled to paper tape
punches to generate computer input.
Ellis Adding-Typewriter Co. was acquired and the Class 3000 accounting machine with
descriptor was added to the product line in 1929.
Here, Grace Kelly gives it a try.
In the years to come, accounting machines would become as important as the cash register
The Dayton factory in 1946 after World War II duties of manufacturing rocket motors,
analogue computer bomb gun-sights, and the Chandler-Evans aircraft carburettor used
on long range B-29 bombers.
The Japanese plant was nationalized in 1940 and the Berlin factory was destroyed.
After producing bank posting machines for nearly thirty years NCR revolutionized
the banking industry.
The Class 29 Post-Tronic was an electronic bank posting machine unveiled in 1956.
It provided automatic balance pickup from magnetic stripes on the backside of the
ledger card, which eliminated the need for "double posting" enabling NCR to capture
the lion's share of the commercial bank posting market.
During the same period NCR was instrumental in the development of MICR (Magnetic
Ink Character Recognition) which is the strange looking small print that appears
on the bottom of all checks today, allowing the documents to be read electronically.
Partnering with General Electric produced the world's first solid state (fully transistorized)
mainframe computer, the NCR 304 in 1957. The original customer delivery was to the
United States Marine Corps at Camp Pendleton, California in 1959.
First month uptime was 99.3% which was amazing for 1950's technology.
The 304 was followed in 1961 by the 315 with the first mass storage device. NCR developed
the Card Random Access Memory "CRAM" which utilized a removable deck of 256 magnetic
cards with a high speed random access (less than 1/6 second" setting the stage for
real-time processing. Each canister stored 17,000,000 characters and data was transferred
at 100,000 bits per second.
The 402 MICR Reader-Sorter (middle ground in centre picture) read customer checks
and allowed banks to later fine sort them for account filing.
Cash registers as well as teller, adding, and accounting machines could be fitted
with paper tape recorders which punched a tape for input to the 315.
National Optical Font "NOF" was a machine and human readable typeface which could
provide computer input from cash registers and adding machines via the 420 Optical
Character Reader. Punch card and magnetic tape input/output was available for compatibility
with other systems.
In 1963 bank teller machines were interfaced to telephone lines and connected to
the 315 allowing immediate updating of customer accounts, directly from branch offices,
eliminating the need for the intermediary punched paper tape. NCR coined another
new data processing term, "On-Line".
The race was on to build the first computer built entirely with integrated circuits
"ICs". NCR delivered the Century 100 and sometimes ally, Control Data, installed
the CDC 7600 in 1968, and the winner was, too close to call.
The Criterion/8500 series debuted in 1976 and the DecisionMate V personal computer
would be released in 1983. That year also saw the first installation of the 9300
which was an online multi-user system for the smaller user.
The early 1970s brought some very difficult times partly due to a slow transition
from mechanics to electronics in the cash register business. However, this 280 electronic
point-of-sale terminal would be the 10,000,000th product delivered (1972).
The NCR Tower 16/32 was first delivered in 1977. It moved UNIX from the college campus
to the office, the manufacturing floor, and the bank. Originally designed for 8-16
users, later models would support hundreds.
While the current focus was on proprietary mainframe systems the Tower charted the
long range direction toward Open Systems. More than 100,000 of these systems would
Although Tower is an NCR trademark, "tower" (referring to the vertical product packaging)
is now a generic reference to this type of cabinetry and part of the computer lexicon.
In the early 1980s NCR would deliver 2nd generation self service terminals (SSTs).
Worldwide production of these modern miracles was centralized in Scotland and the
wizards in Dundee discovered all sorts of clever uses for them.
These machines would not only dispense cash, but also documents like airline tickets
and boarding passes. Later models read and cashed cheques and even dispensed coin
as well as paper currency. They would also be used for Electronic Benefits Transfer
(EBT), saving government agencies money and providing recipients additional security.
Following the Open Systems vision, NCR began a staged release of the System 3000
Family in the early '90s. This scalable series ranged from single processor workstations
to massively-parallel systems with hundreds of Intel Pentium processors. NCR was
delivering the massively-parallel solutions that others were just dreaming about.
Contrary to popular opinion, most of the largest databases live on these systems,
not those of that other computer company.
January 1, 1997 - NCR is again an independent company with stock trading on the exchanges
of the world under its former symbol, NCR.