bookmark_borderA Similar Perspective.

I often do searches online for various legacy point of sale systems, including the NCR 255 and IBM 3680 systems. I stumbled across this narrative from, which echoes a lot of my feelings of where we’re going with point of sale equipment today (toward unsuitable iPad and similar equipment). Computers are trending toward an “one size fits all” paradigm, when that’s always not the most efficient approach.

I found this an interesting read. I hope you do as well.

bookmark_borderDTS Series 400 Documentation.

The Retail Solutions Providers Association (RSPA) is celebrating the 75th anniversary this year and at their recent RetailNOW gathering, featured an exhibit of technology in the point of sale space over the years.

In addition to the vintage equipment on display (shown in previous blog entry photos), they’ve also put together an impressive library of vintage brochures and other documentation from over the years. With their permission, I’ll be sharing some of these pieces here on the site.

For more information on the RSPA, check out their website at

Up first, sales brochures around the DTS Series 400 line of cash registers. There’s several different models and use cases shown in these brochures.

Some features available in the Series 400 included Interregister Communications, ANS-R-TRAN (allowing for host computers and the cash registers to communicate data back and forth), change dispensing interfaces compatible with NCR change dispensers, dot matrix remote slip printers, real time clock, and multiple cash drawer options.

I’m still on the lookout for operating, programming, and technical manuals for all of these machines. I’m also looking for old receipts generated from these machines as well.







I never thought I’d see the day that vintage receipts would be up for auction on ebay, but it’s becoming fairly common. I should have kept some journal tapes from back in the day, I could have made a lot of money!

Here we have a bunch of receipts and price tags from 1983 as featured in an ebay auction. I found all of these interesting.

The Kmart receipt was generated by an NCR 2552 cash register. Personally I’d never seen an NCR 2552 cash register at Kmart back in the day, but NCR was a prominent vendor for the chain and back then they had many different cash register systems in their stores. The NCR 2552 (presumably hanging off an NCR 726 minicomputer in the back) was running the standard NCR software, and the receipt formatting is identical to Hills, Zayre, Bradlees, and the grocery chains using the same equipment at the time.

The Ames receipts are all generated by IBM 3683s, from IBM’s Programmable Store System (which later became General Sales Application). Ames had standardized on the system in the early 1980s, and the price tags are from two simultaneous conversion periods: the Big N chain was being incorporated into the Ames brand and the IBM conversion from mechanical registers was still taking place. The price tags have two data entry points: the first line being the eight digit SKU used by the IBM system, the second line being “two pass” entries for the mechanical cash registers that punched optical tape. Look close and you’ll see the first three digits of the top line matches the last two digits of the second line, and digits 5-7 on the top line match the first three digits of the second line. The last line of the eight digit SKU is a Modulus 10 checksum digit. At the time Ames had changed their slogan from “The savings are amazing at Ames” to “The savings are amazing at Ames-Big N”, but I never saw this on a receipt.

The Jamesway receipts are also generated by IBM 3683s, but I could never figure out what software Jamesway was running at the time. It was always my understanding that prior to the IBM 4680 system (in the mid-late 1980s), IBM wouldn’t sell their equipment without selling the complete package of cash registers, back end computers, and the software to run it all. But the formatting and “transaction language”, as I like to call it, on the receipt resembles nothing that comes from the IBM Programmable Store System found at other stores. There is some resemblance to receipts from Waldenbooks B. Dalton Bookstores of the era, so I’ll probably go down that path trying to figure out what other software packages were available for the IBM systems in the early 1980s.

Though no receipts are included, there’s also a price tag for Fay’s Drug Store, which was a popular chain in Upstate New York. At the time, many Fay’s stores were running Data Terminal Systems Series 400 cash registers. They used a two-digit department numbering system, which would be entered prior to the price entry on the register. A typical entry on the 44mm wide receipt (EP-101 impact printer) was two lines, for example:


… where “TA” standard for “Tax Applicable”. I can’t remember if non taxable items were “NT” or “TN” (using the same T on that printer position).