The incorruptible cashier

That’s what they nicknamed the first mechanical cash register (circa 1870). It wasn’t created to automate sales or do addition or any such thing – it was created to stop employees from skimming from the till.

A quirky store owner named John Patterson took the idea and ran with it, turning National Cash Register into a the number one employer in Dayton, Ohio. You remember NCR perhaps?

A ‘zapper’ is a modern day piece of software that removes transactions from a register’s memory so the operator won’t have to pay sales tax.

(I’m working with my friend Michael Fitzgerald on an article on point-of-sale security. Yet another little corner of the world that sounds mundane but actually has all these fascinating little wrinkles and historical oddities.)

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4 thoughts on “The incorruptible cashier

  1. Well obviously it didn’t :) but it put some controls on each transaction that weren’t there before. Including that bell that rings when the drawer opens – that was to alert the store owner, apparently.

    So this is how it goes, eh. People figure out how to steal, owners figure out a defense, people figure out a way around it, and so on. Eventually the defenses are so robust that you have to come up with really complex methods of theft, like “zappers” or “mortgage backed securities”. :)

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