The Machine That Kept Them Honest


The policies of the Cash are now far different from those of the unpredictable autocrat of its pioneering decades. But the heritage of a unique tradition remains. It is a tradition that links the gaslight era of Prince Albert coats and high collars, of wooden Indians and handwritten letters, with the business world of today, the world of the typewriter and the fountain pen, the duplicating machine and the calculating machine, and, of course, the world of the cash register. This tradition places N.C.R. in the main stream of American business development.

Patterson showed the way to introduce not only “big ticket” merchandise like washing machines and refrigerators, but all products that require sampling and demonstration. To every doorbell ringer of the 2,700 companies whose salesmen make five million calls on every working day, to every bright, cheery, happy, polite, top-notch producer who ever made the Fine and Dandy Club of the Fuller Brush Company, or the Hoover vacuum cleaner Hall of Fame, some of Patterson’s shrewd, practical psychology has been passed down. And every executive who has ever made a presentation, talked with the assistance of a slide projector, or handled a flip chart is an heir of the crotchety old man at N.C.R. with his blazing eyes, his scratch pads, his slogans, his food fads—and his touch of genius.

We cannot forbear to shave with our readers this little masterpiece of sentiment, a booklet put out by “the Cash” in 1909. It illustrates with a tale of unalloyed bathos the point that purchase of a cash register is good not only for one’s business but also for the moral well-being of one’s employment.