From Ohio History Central
This photograph depicts the assembly department of the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio, circa 1930s-1940s.
In 1884, John Henry Patterson bought out his fellow investors in the National Manufacturing Company and formed the National Cash Register Company, the predecessor of NCR Corporation. Located in Dayton, Ohio, this company made cash registers. The company grew slowly, producing only 16,000 registers in its first decade in operation. Through aggressive marketing and advertising, by 1914 the National Cash Register Company was producing 110,000 cash registers per year. In 1906, the company manufactured the first electric cash register.
Few cash registers were sold in the early years of the company’s operation due to lack of demand. However, Patterson was confident that once owners understood how the register reduced theft there would be an upsurge of demand. He created the American Selling Force, a committee within the company that would act as traveling salesmen. These workers were paid on commission, trained on a universal script, and sent on visits to other businesses to promote their product. The NCR also began buying smaller firms to form a monopoly. Patterson, as well as a few other NCR CEOs, was convicted in the mid-1910s of breaking the Sherman Anti-Trust law.
Patterson was well known for his compassion for his employees. He provided women workers with coffee and soup for lunch. Machine operators sat on actual chairs with backs for support rather than on stools. He provided his workers with indoor bathrooms. Patterson implemented a ventilation system to provide clean air to his workers. He also maintained a doctor's office in his factory to assist injured workers as quickly as possible.
The National Cash Register Company engaged in civic work as well. Following the Dayton flood of 1913, the company provided approximately $1 million to assist people in recovering from the disaster. The company allocated an additional $600,000 to study how the community could prevent flooding in the future. In addition to these efforts, Patterson donated money to help build parks and playgrounds. He also provided funds to create the first public kindergarten in Dayton.
Patterson died on May 2, 1922. His son, Frederick B. Patterson, assumed control of the National Cash Register Company. That same year, the company had officially produced two million cash registers. It also had begun producing other business machines. During World War I and World War II, the National Cash Register Company contributed to the United States' war effort by manufacturing shell fuses, plane engines, and code-breaking machines, among many other items.
During the 1950s and the 1960s, the National Cash Register Company began to produce computers. In 1974, it changed its name to NCR Corporation to symbolize its more diverse product line. In 1991, AT&T acquired the NCR Corporation but decided to end its control of NCR Corporation in 1997. In 2009, NCR Corporation announced the company’s move to Duluth, Georgia. NCR Corporation continues to operate, specializing in office equipment.
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