Over the past few decades, Point-of-Sale systems have seen quite a few adaptations. Most of these changes were made due to the advancements in computer and software technologies. As more efficient devices are developed, the POS system has grow to keep up with the ever changing world of technology. This has led to retail locations remaining successful while keeping their own levels of efficiency maintained throughout the years.
Prior to the 1970s, most retailers relied on simple methods of the cash register and/or handwritten paper ledgers. As the earlier registers didn’t have a method to record data throughout a day’s sales, these interactions were usually written down in a ledger in order to track the transactions while providing a balance of cash at a glance. This ultimately slower method, as compared to the styles of today, was efficient in its own right as these devices were merely mechanical calculators that held money.
In the mid-1970s, the first networking cash registers were developed and distributed in a few locations around the United States. These electronic devices connected to a local area network and sent the sales data back to a centralized server for storage. Developing these POS systems could be seen as the first commercial usage of client-to-server technology; a lesser scale of some of the sophistication we enjoy today whether in the office or at home.
As time progressed and technology advanced, so did the POS system. Instead of devices that operated from programming inside computer chips within the device, retail businesses were offered a new operating system alternative. During the mid-1990s, the onset of the Windows environment as well as Java prompted Sun Microsystems to develop a software-based point-of-sale system that operated from computers. Developers also saw the usefulness in Windows and developed sales software to operate on those computers as well. From the development of the first Windows operating system, these software engineers would continue to adapt in order to remain competitive.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, technology began to evolve yet again bringing the ability of touchscreens to the computer world to enhance the POS system. Computers could be set up in a restaurant allowing staff to operate purchases through a touchscreen panel while providing correct change. This information was then stored on the server side which monitored levels of inventory, cash flow and various other aspects of conducting business.
As advancements continued, the development of Cloud technology now offers the same usefulness as the touchscreen POS but includes mobility. These Point-of-Sale systems no longer need to be restricted to a local area network as innovation allows for data sharing over the Internet. Instead of investing a great deal of money in a storage server and networking hardware to operate the POS aspect of a business, it can all be done with a simple wireless connection to the Internet and/or a smartphone.