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A brief history of POS systems

The dawn of Electronic POS systems

Since the dawn of commerce, the customer experience has always been a key factor. It can be the difference between make or break, purchase or lost basket. Today’s youth may not believe we have always had the pleasure of the internet. Microprocessors and electronic devices come as standard these days, but PoS hasn’t always been so cutting edge. Here, we explain the history of EPoS systems & how past lessons are guiding us into the future.

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                                             The early days of POS


In the beginning, POS systems were little more than typewriters mangled with calculators, but this all changed in the mid 1970’s. IBM released the IBM 3650 and 3660 systems, which were effectively a set-up of terminals that were all wired back to a central mainframe, or controller. These controllers carried out all the processing, with the terminals only being used as a visual display. Impressively, this system saw the first commercial use of technology such as local area network (LAN), peer-to-peer communication and remote initialisation.




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       An early McDonald’s POS system

This was the standard for the time as more and more businesses adopted these expensive and somewhat clunky POS systems. Dilliard’s department stores and Pathmark stores in the USA were the first retailers to install these groundbreaking systems. This instantly gave them a huge advantage over the competition who were left playing catch-up.

Soon after, McDonald’s restaurants decided to take advantage of the first microprocessor-controlled cash register systems. Developed by William Brobeck in 1974, this POS device would feature a physical button for every single item on the menu. It allowed fast and efficient ordering, meaning that customer turnover could be significantly improved. This meant food orders reached the mouths of hungry customers faster than ever. This as the first set-up which made it possible to connect up to eight devices to one of the interconnected computers. Everything from prices, taxes and printed reports could all be managed with ease. A turning point in EPoS measured by the boom in fast food.

Let there be colour

It wasn’t until the mid 1980’s that business could begin to purchase POS systems which featured graphical interfaces. The first colour-graphical user interface and touch screen came in the form of an Atari 520ST in 1986. This model featured a widget driven interface that allowed configuration of the software without advanced programming knowledge. This lowered the technical   knowledge needed for the common user massively. With advances in computing power and a reduction in computer part prices, it was now becoming more feasible for businesses of varying sizes to look into incorporating their own POS system to help improve their operations.

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                           The Atari 520ST

But it was in the 90’s that the history of EPoS systems started to take shape. This was made possible through the availability of local processing power, faster networking and local data storage. Running most commonly on Windows and Linux platforms, systems slowly began to become available off the shelf, meaning lower prices for the customer as systems didn’t have to be tailor-made for each business individually.

With more vendors and retailers using and developing POS systems, the 90’s also saw an effort to standardise the coding language of POS systems to aid compatibility and uniformity with the systems. The two major initiatives were OPOS and  JavaPOS, both of which conformed to the UnifiedPOS standard.

JavaPOS is for Java what OPOS is for Windows, and thus largely platform independent. It allows the suppliers and brands to work with each other, and the history of EPoS systems with it.

Up in the clouds

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                              Mobile EPOS system

Cloud computing has revolutionised the modern day computing landscape. It allows us to remove the reliance on local hardware and lets us upload and carry out important tasks remotely. In more recent years this has opened up many opportunities to push POS systems even further, providing users to access their vital information from almost anywhere on the planet, be it from their smartphone, tablet, laptop, or any other web-capable mobile device.

In addition, these modern devices mean that small start-ups can utilise this technology to act as barcode readers through the inbuilt camera, and make card payments through NFC (Near Field Communications)  tech. This means the financial cost and technical know-how of implementing a POS system has been reduced drastically over the years.

Ecommerce & Everything EPoS

These days, Ecommerce has allowed customers to compare a huge range of EPoS systems fit for their need. Everything EPoS is a UK-wide business that provides a vast range of high-end industry leading EPoS systems, from the hardware, software and every accessory you’d ever need. Over the years Derek realised that only the best equipment is acceptable for his customers, which is why big names such as Casio, Sam4’s and ICRTouch are available through Everything EPoS’ store.

We’re not sure what the future of EPoS systems will be, but we do know that whatever comes next, Everything EPoS will be there to keep you at the frontier.

For more information about the history of Everything EPoS or if you’d like some advice about how you can bring your company into the EPoS future, contact us today.