Nowadays, most retail stores, restaurants or garden centres have integrated an EPoS system with their business. There was a time, though, that all commercial transactions were carried out without the use of EPoS technology. Here are the 8 milestones that led us to the modern EPoS software and hardware systems.
1. The Computer’s Ancestors
If your three year old ever asked you “where do computers come from?” you would -almost certainly- answer “from the factory”, right? Well, it turns out that computers are the descendants of a 15th century man! The term is used in 1613 for the first time by the English writer Richard Braithwait, who writes the following phrase in his book called “The Young Man’s Gleanings”: ‘I haue read the truest computer of Times, and the best Arithmetician that euer breathed, and he reduceth thy dayes into a short number’. The “computer”, though, is not a machine but a person, whose job is to carry out simple or complex calculations. Devices with mechanical parts, such as the Sumerian Abacus (around 2500 BC) and the Antikythera Mechanism (around 80BC), are nowadays considered to be the ancestors of modern computers. It wasn’t until the end of the 19th century, though, that the term “computer” started to be associated with machines and until the mid-20th century that took up its current meaning.
2. A Few Corrupted Bartenders and the Invention of the Cash Register
Image Source: http://www.americantable.org/2011/11/today-in-history-rittys-incorruptible-cashier-1879/
In 1870, James Ritty was the owner of a successful saloon in Dayton, Ohio and a desperate businessman. Looking to put an end to his bartenders’ bad habit of pocketing the daily profits, often leaving him with losses at the end of the day, in 1879 he assembles what is now considered the first cash register in history. After making a few amends to his third model, Ritty started selling “Ritty’s Incorruptible Cashier”, which didn’t actually turn out to be a major commercial success, as he managed to sell only… one. The first cash registers didn’t print any receipts; this feature was added a few years later and by 1890 it was a standard feature.
3. The First Credit Cards
It is almost impossible to imagine one’s life today without carrying at least one credit or debit card in his wallet. There was a time, though, that no one could imagine purchasing anything, even the cheapest product, without paying for it immediately. In 1887, the American author and socialist, Edward Bellamy describes what is very similar to a modern credit card in his book “Looking Backward”. It isn’t until 1921, though, when Western Union’s frequent clients get the chance to use the company’s “charge cards”.
4. The First Inventory Management System
Even though inventory management has formed a significant part of human history since… well, since always, it is only in 1889 when Herman Hollerith creates the ancestor to today’s inventory management software systems; Hollerith’s system was a punch card that could also be run through a machine. Almost 40 years later, Harvard University created a punch card system for businesses, based on Hollerith’s original idea; it was so expensive and slow, though, that the entrepreneurial world didn’t go along…
5. The First Barcodes
The first ever barcode looked like a… bullseye and was patented around the end of the 1940s by Bernard Silver and Norman Joseph Woodland. It was the result of their efforts to invent a more automated system to accelerate grocery checkout procedures, as the food chain “Food Chair” had requested.
6. The First Recorded E-commerce Transaction was… Illegal
The first ever commercial transaction to take place online involved a few Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology students. In 1971, the former sealed a commercial deal with the latter, using Arpanet accounts. The product that was sold was an unknown quantity of marijuana…
7. The First Modern EPoS System
IBM brought EPoS hardware into the digital era in 1973, when they introduced the IBM 3650 store system that had the capacity to process the data from up to 128 IBM PoS tills. This innovative IBM system featured functions such as LAN backup and remote initialisation.
8. Scanning a Wrigley’s Gum Pack
The first time a U.P.C. scanner was put to use was in June 1974, at a Marsh’s supermarket in Troy, Ohio. Apparently, the first product that was scanned was…a Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit Gum pack.