IBM 5260 Retail Solution.

I stumbled across this video on YouTube from the Hagley Museum and Library channel. It is a very informative video on the IBM 5260 Retail Solution from the late 1970s and early 1980s.

A couple of interesting things about the cash register of this retail solution:

  1. The cashier prompts are actually a “rolling” tape with the appropriate prompt displayed through a window
  2. The keyboard was not conducive to touch-style entry. The chicklet keyboard required a firm touch and the keys were oddly sized
  3. The reason for the chicklet keyboard was the paper overlays used for programming the cash register
  4. Multiple registers could be networked together
  5. Data was stored on 8-inch floppy disks, much like the IBM 3684 from around the same era

I had the opportunity to work on one of these registers for a mall photo shop in the 1991 or 1992. By that time the cash register was pretty beat up but still worked reliably. The new owner of the store needed assistance in learning how the register worked and what his upgrade paths were. Providing this information was a lot of fun for me, though I was learning about the register along the way as well. The majority of my IBM point of sale experience, up to that point, had been writing user exits on the IBM 4680 series of registers as a contract programmer.

Enjoy the video!

Posted in IBM


  1. Wow.. thanks for posting this. I always wondered what IBM model this was.

    I grew up in the greater Cleveland Ohio area. The first time I saw this model was in 1978 at Lionel Kiddie City. They had just converted from a combination of TEC ECR’s and NCR 6000 mechanical registers to the 5260, I remember one of the managers looking over a manual while entering data into the 5260.

    The 5260 was the first register I ever operated (circa 1985) at Games N Gadget’s (later EB Games).

    The cashier prompts are on a “rolling cylinder” displayed through the window. There was a manual that contained additional prompt (stickers) that could be added or removed from the rolling cylinder) so you could customize the prompts.


    Was the retailer responsible for installing & programming the 5260 ? (like todays ECR’s) The video seems to indicate the retailer programs it.

    Can the 5260 operate as a true stand alone register ? (just plug it in, program it and go) or does it NEED to be connected to a computer system.

    1. I worked on an IBM 5260 a couple of times and as I recall, it’s a standalone, self contained unit. All of the programming is done at the register and data to be processed in the back office is stored on a floppy disk pulled from the drive in the register. If you were to get your hands on one today, I believe you can plug it in anywhere and get working on it (provided it’s a functioning unit).

  2. Installed several master / satellite units in an auto parts chain. The master had Bisync communications (BSC) capability and nightly the shops were ‘polled’ by a Series/1 to retrieve sales data and download updates to the inventory, e.g., add / remove items, pricing changes and special offers.

    The OS was a System/3 variant.

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