Welcome back to our “Think Like A Locksmith” series. Last time, we kept things safe with a few fun facts about vaults. Today, let’s cash out and look at something we experience nearly every time we go shopping. Yes, we are talking about the humble cash drawer. At Firstline Locksmith, we get calls pretty regularly from businesses with stuck, jammed, or locked-up cash drawers. After 25 years serving New Jersey, our locksmiths have gotten pretty good at getting them open again. We’ve also learned a lot about them, too!

A Device You Can Count On

Today’s cash drawers and registers are fitted with computer monitors, credit card readers, scanners, and printers. But, that hasn’t always been the case. The cash drawer has rather humble origins and was even more humble in appearance.

The first cash register was developed in the 1870s by James Ritty of Ohio. Ritty, who served in the Civil War, ran a small cafe in Dayton after the war. Ritty’s cafe was popular with locals and was always busy. Despite the foot traffic, the business never seemed to make any money. Ritty realized that it was his deceitful staff, who would pocket the money being made, that made his business flounder. Ritty had observed the workings of a steam engine ship and took inspiration from a device that recorded the revolutions of the ship’s propeller. Ritty patterned his cash drawer around this mechanism. This new cash drawer was capable of recording the sales that occurred in the cafe and could even punch holes into a piece of paper to create a receipt of the transaction. This allowed Ritty to keep track of what was being sold and for how much.

Going Green While Storing Your Green

The majority of cash drawers are made from simple components and materials, like sheet metal and magnets. The result is that most cash registers have no unusual by-products or waste associated with their production. Because they are durably made, they have a very long service life. Indeed, while some businesses invest in new cash registers when they open a retail space, many more choose to purchase a used cash drawer instead. There’s an entire industry dedicated to refurbishing and selling used cash drawers!

An International Success

Cash drawers are used all over the world. While the design largely remains the same, for every country and every industry, there is a specialized cash drawer. The kind of display used on the cash register changes between locations. For instance, a dimly lit club needs a brighter screen than the corner market. Some registers need to record more than just sales, and be capable of sending that information to other parts of a store. A waiter might input a food order on one register that is then displayed in the kitchen. Additionally, registers are tailored to match the size of a country’s paper money and monetary system.

Keeping it Safe

Just as the technology used with cash drawers has changed since the 1870s, so has the way the drawers secure the money within. Some of the earliest cash registers did not even have a drawer to keep the money organized, and often, shopkeepers would keep their funds in a box instead. Eventually, registers and cash drawers were paired together, and mechanisms on the register could open the drawer. Locks were added so that the drawer could not be opened without the proper key. Today, cash drawers use electronic locking mechanisms that can only be opened by entering a password into the register’s computer.

Whatever kind of cash drawer you use, if you find yourself locked out of it, don’t panic. Give Firstline Locksmith a call. We’ve helped businesses all across New Jersey get back into their jammed or locked cash drawers. Our technicians are well-trained, polite, and efficient, meaning you’ll spend less money on getting your cash drawer fixed, and keep more of that money in the cash drawer where it belongs.