James and John Ritty, 1836–1918 and 1834–1913
Guardians of Cash
Annoyed when bartenders in his Dayton, Ohio, saloon pocketed the day’s take, James Ritty enlisted his brother John, a mechanic, to foil them. They developed an “incorruptible cashier,” which kept paper records of transactions, thereby revolutionizing retail sales. An unexpected benefit was that customers could also see the prices charged.
Americans’ hunger for easy money opened opportunities for schemers. They took advantage of investors’ confusion about new technologies and financial systems and their surprising willingness to trust people they did not know.