Profile America: Ka-ching! The Cash Register Is Patented

Monday, November 4. The slang exclamation “ka-ching!” owes its birth to a development on this date140 years ago. That’s when James Ritty, a saloon keeper in Dayton, Ohio, patented the cash register he developed with his mechanic brother John.

Vintage NCR cash register (Instagram)

The unit indeed registered sales, but didn’t have a cash drawer. That came just a little later, and the sound made by ringing up sales on mechanical or electronic registers was iconic for generations. Today, there are some 3.3 million cashiers, ¾ of them women, and mostly using bar code scanners.

The first use of that technology took place in Troy, Ohio, just 20 miles from Dayton, and now record America’s retail and food sales of about a half trillion dollars per month.

You can find more facts about America’s people, places and economy, from the American Community Survey, at

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