Kmart checkouts over the years

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Super S
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Kmart checkouts over the years

Post by Super S » 10 Dec 2018 00:24

Kmart's early stores used mechanical cash registers, but I am curious about the timeline when Kmart first used electronic cash registers, and the year that they last used a mechanical register. (I was born in 1973) The only mechanical one in a Kmart I can remember was in a standalone auto center building at the store on Americana in Boise, Idaho in the early 1980s. I remember this as my sister paid to have a muffler replaced on her car. However, at that time the main store had electronic cash registers which were non-scanning Data Terminal Systems registers. I can not recall one where the mechanical ones were still in use at the main checkouts, and I have the impression that they moved quickly to implement electronic registers during the 1970s. Some other chains had mechanical registers in use at the main checkouts much later as I do remember a few Safeway stores having them until the mid-1980s, and one Fred Meyer store still using mechanical registers in the variety section (even though grocery had scanners by then) up until about 1989 or 1990.

The first time I remember a scanner in use at a Kmart was around 1989 or 1990 at a store in the Portland area, and it seemed like another year or two before all of them had scanners, but there were about 4-5 systems in use which were various models of IBM, NCR, and Fujitsu units depending on location.

It wasn't until the early to mid 2000s before Kmart had one system in use chainwide, which is the IBM system currently in use by Kmart.
Last edited by Super S on 24 May 2020 11:30, edited 1 time in total.

TW-Upstate NY
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Re: Kmart checkouts over the years

Post by TW-Upstate NY » 10 Dec 2018 13:44

My first experience with K-Mart was in late 1973 when the Dickson City, Pa. store opened and they had the electronic (digital) registers from the get-go throughout the store and at the front end as well. As I recall, they were rather large and kind of square(ish) or boxy. The readout was kind of a blue(ish) green and the number shapes would be similar to what you'd see on early calculator which were just coming into vogue at that time as well.

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Re: Kmart checkouts over the years

Post by Super S » 14 Dec 2018 02:33

TW-Upstate NY wrote: 10 Dec 2018 13:44 My first experience with K-Mart was in late 1973 when the Dickson City, Pa. store opened and they had the electronic (digital) registers from the get-go throughout the store and at the front end as well. As I recall, they were rather large and kind of square(ish) or boxy. The readout was kind of a blue(ish) green and the number shapes would be similar to what you'd see on early calculator which were just coming into vogue at that time as well.
The NCR 280 fits this description, and was widely used by Kmart. However, I do remember some also used the NCR 255 (which also fits the description), which had the blueish green display but also had red LED? indicator lights on the face of the register.

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Re: Kmart checkouts over the years

Post by Super S » 26 Dec 2018 21:05

Also, I am trying to remember if the Jupiter stores used the same models of registers as Kmart. Jupiter was gone by the time Kmart installed scanners, but I do remember Kmart price tags being used in Jupiter in the early 1980s.

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Re: Kmart checkouts over the years

Post by thatjpwing » 28 Apr 2020 20:05

Kmart had a wide selection of electronic cash registers before they settled into the IBM system that has evolved over the past 20 years.

Kmart used NCR Class 5 mechanical cash registers well into the late 1970s and in places, the early 1980s. When stores upgraded to electronic registers, I saw these in the wild:

NCR 230
NCR 255 - no scanning
Data Terminal Systems Series 400 - modified keyboard with tendered buttons on the left instead of right
Fujitsu
IBM 3683
NCR 280

I stumbled across this forum entry while doing research for my Vintage Point Of Sale Site at http://vintagepointofsale.com. I'm writing up information on what became the Kmart Information Network, and the consolidation of all the differing types of electronic cash registers.

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Re: Kmart checkouts over the years

Post by Super S » 22 May 2020 13:05

thatjpwing wrote: 28 Apr 2020 20:05 Kmart had a wide selection of electronic cash registers before they settled into the IBM system that has evolved over the past 20 years.

Kmart used NCR Class 5 mechanical cash registers well into the late 1970s and in places, the early 1980s. When stores upgraded to electronic registers, I saw these in the wild:

NCR 230
NCR 255 - no scanning
Data Terminal Systems Series 400 - modified keyboard with tendered buttons on the left instead of right
Fujitsu
IBM 3683
NCR 280

I stumbled across this forum entry while doing research for my Vintage Point Of Sale Site at http://vintagepointofsale.com. I'm writing up information on what became the Kmart Information Network, and the consolidation of all the differing types of electronic cash registers.
When Kmart first installed scanners, I remember some Kmart locations in the Portland, Oregon area were using IBM 3683 registers with scanners, the first time I saw this was at the McMinnville location outside of Portland. Others around Portland used the common Fujitsu system. In my travels to other areas of the country, I remember several locations using the IBM 4683 system (all with scanners) as well as a new-looking NCR system with scanners I saw in use in Casper, Wyoming. I did not see that NCR system in use at any other Kmart, but recognized it as a system used in some grocery stores.

There was a variant of the Data Terminal Systems Series 400 that I saw used at Kmart in the camera and electronics sections that had a different printer and was similar to scanning versions used in some grocery stores, but I don't know if they used the scanning features as the Series 400 was used at the main checkouts.

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Re: Kmart checkouts over the years

Post by storewanderer » 07 Jun 2020 03:29

It seemed like in the early 90's they got different equipment and it was from a variety of providers.

In the late 90's Kmart had managed to move most of the locations to the IBM Supermarket Software even if they were not using IBM Hardware.

For a while Kmart ran its old software in the non-Supercenter Stores and the IBM Supermarket Software in the Supercenter stores from the mid 90's to the late 90's. This was the old software that gave every item a "line number." So if someone wanted to void an item it was press void and then enter the line number to void (vs. the IBM where it was void then scan item you wanted to void).

The Kmart in Reno that closed during the first bankruptcy had some other register hardware (no clue what it was) from the mid 90's to early 00's- it was a piece of hardware I had also seen in some mall stores but not sure what it was. It was running IBM Supermarket Software at the end.

I always wondered if the odd variety of hardwares was due to the various businesses they had owned previously. I remember for instance Office Max used Fujistu, Borders used NCR, Waldenbooks used IBM. Probably just a coincidence.
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BillyGr
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Re: Kmart checkouts over the years

Post by BillyGr » 07 Jun 2020 14:17

storewanderer wrote: 07 Jun 2020 03:29 I always wondered if the odd variety of hardwares was due to the various businesses they had owned previously. I remember for instance Office Max used Fujistu, Borders used NCR, Waldenbooks used IBM. Probably just a coincidence.
Actually, given the way they did(n't) update most of their own stores regularly, it wouldn't be surprising if that was how they wound up with such a variety, just taking anything that wasn't being used and using it wherever.

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Re: Kmart checkouts over the years

Post by Super S » 30 Jun 2020 21:13

storewanderer wrote: 07 Jun 2020 03:29 It seemed like in the early 90's they got different equipment and it was from a variety of providers.

In the late 90's Kmart had managed to move most of the locations to the IBM Supermarket Software even if they were not using IBM Hardware.

For a while Kmart ran its old software in the non-Supercenter Stores and the IBM Supermarket Software in the Supercenter stores from the mid 90's to the late 90's. This was the old software that gave every item a "line number." So if someone wanted to void an item it was press void and then enter the line number to void (vs. the IBM where it was void then scan item you wanted to void).

The Kmart in Reno that closed during the first bankruptcy had some other register hardware (no clue what it was) from the mid 90's to early 00's- it was a piece of hardware I had also seen in some mall stores but not sure what it was. It was running IBM Supermarket Software at the end.

I always wondered if the odd variety of hardwares was due to the various businesses they had owned previously. I remember for instance Office Max used Fujistu, Borders used NCR, Waldenbooks used IBM. Probably just a coincidence.
I sometimes wondered if the variety of hardware had to do with local warranty/support for specific brands, or the lack of it, in some areas. Keep in mind things were different in the pre-internet days. I sometimes also wondered if Kmart was simply evaluating the different systems used by the acquired chains for possible chainwide use.

The system PayLess Drug had by the early 90s (which simply read "JB622" on the front but had no name on it, I have always wondered who made these) was one I do not remember ever seeing in Kmart (which owned PayLess), or any other store for that matter. Interestingly, when they took over Pay 'N Save, they retained the IBM 4683 registers which were used with detached keyboards above the scanners. It looked a little weird when Rite Aid took over and their system was used with regular keyboards and CRT monitors in the existing Pay 'N Save checkstands still in use.

At one point I briefly worked at Target in the early 1990s. I remember a newsletter mentioning at some point that the entire chain had been converted to IBM 4683, but it was quite some time after when Kmart was more uniform.

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Re: Kmart checkouts over the years

Post by thatjpwing » 21 Jul 2020 13:33

I believe Kmart was using software made by a POS company (PSI or Post Software International) based in Raleigh, N.C. in the mid to late 1990s running on a variety of hardware. I have receipt images from that area, and knowing what I do about point of sale hardware, it’s obvious the receipts are printed by three different manufacturer’s printers: NCR, IBM 4683, and the Fujitsu registers. The format of the receipts are identical (for the most part). These are the receipts with the line numbers per item.

I’ve been doing research on the Kmart Information Network implementation in the 1980s and will be writing about that soon on http://vintagepointofsale.com

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Re: Kmart checkouts over the years

Post by thatjpwing » 21 Jul 2020 13:38

Super S wrote: 30 Jun 2020 21:13
storewanderer wrote: 07 Jun 2020 03:29 It seemed like in the early 90's they got different equipment and it was from a variety of providers.

In the late 90's Kmart had managed to move most of the locations to the IBM Supermarket Software even if they were not using IBM Hardware.

For a while Kmart ran its old software in the non-Supercenter Stores and the IBM Supermarket Software in the Supercenter stores from the mid 90's to the late 90's. This was the old software that gave every item a "line number." So if someone wanted to void an item it was press void and then enter the line number to void (vs. the IBM where it was void then scan item you wanted to void).

The Kmart in Reno that closed during the first bankruptcy had some other register hardware (no clue what it was) from the mid 90's to early 00's- it was a piece of hardware I had also seen in some mall stores but not sure what it was. It was running IBM Supermarket Software at the end.

I always wondered if the odd variety of hardwares was due to the various businesses they had owned previously. I remember for instance Office Max used Fujistu, Borders used NCR, Waldenbooks used IBM. Probably just a coincidence.
I sometimes wondered if the variety of hardware had to do with local warranty/support for specific brands, or the lack of it, in some areas. Keep in mind things were different in the pre-internet days. I sometimes also wondered if Kmart was simply evaluating the different systems used by the acquired chains for possible chainwide use.

The system PayLess Drug had by the early 90s (which simply read "JB622" on the front but had no name on it, I have always wondered who made these) was one I do not remember ever seeing in Kmart (which owned PayLess), or any other store for that matter. Interestingly, when they took over Pay 'N Save, they retained the IBM 4683 registers which were used with detached keyboards above the scanners. It looked a little weird when Rite Aid took over and their system was used with regular keyboards and CRT monitors in the existing Pay 'N Save checkstands still in use.

At one point I briefly worked at Target in the early 1990s. I remember a newsletter mentioning at some point that the entire chain had been converted to IBM 4683, but it was quite some time after when Kmart was more uniform.
In the early 1990s Target was indeed running IBM 4683 registers but not with IBM’s General Sales Application but a third party software package. I’m still trying to determine if they contracted that out or if they developed the software in house. The Target receipts had two-digit line numbers but did not include the UPC code of the item, but instead a six-digit SKU. Because I don’t have a lot of familiarity with Target before the early 2000s, I don’t know if Target previously used the two digit department/four digit SKU system before then (like Zayre and Hills did) or if they always just had six digit SKU/item numbers. I’m hoping to find more information on that in the coming months.

At first I thought Target’s current incarnation of Point of Sale software was a derivative of Cornell-Mayo Associates software also found in Barnes and Noble and Belk, but it’s not, as CMA was purchased by Retalix, and the Retalix POS software used in Target Canada was one of the contributors to Target’s quick demise in Canada.

Edit: I should clarify, it was not the Cornell-Mayo Associates software running Target Canada, it was Retalix's software, but if Target US was running CMA, logic would dictate that Retalix's software and Retalix owning CMA software in the states would have had compatibility issues.

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Re: Kmart checkouts over the years

Post by Super S » 18 Oct 2020 21:44

thatjpwing wrote: 21 Jul 2020 13:38
In the early 1990s Target was indeed running IBM 4683 registers but not with IBM’s General Sales Application but a third party software package. I’m still trying to determine if they contracted that out or if they developed the software in house. The Target receipts had two-digit line numbers but did not include the UPC code of the item, but instead a six-digit SKU. Because I don’t have a lot of familiarity with Target before the early 2000s, I don’t know if Target previously used the two digit department/four digit SKU system before then (like Zayre and Hills did) or if they always just had six digit SKU/item numbers. I’m hoping to find more information on that in the coming months.

At first I thought Target’s current incarnation of Point of Sale software was a derivative of Cornell-Mayo Associates software also found in Barnes and Noble and Belk, but it’s not, as CMA was purchased by Retalix, and the Retalix POS software used in Target Canada was one of the contributors to Target’s quick demise in Canada.

Edit: I should clarify, it was not the Cornell-Mayo Associates software running Target Canada, it was Retalix's software, but if Target US was running CMA, logic would dictate that Retalix's software and Retalix owning CMA software in the states would have had compatibility issues.
The six digit number was a DPCI number at Target, which I was told was used for several years before scanners were in all Target stores, the shorter number was to speed up the lanes by not having to punch in as many numbers on each item. Some items were not scanned, this included magazines (597 and the price, a $2.50 magazine was 597250) and Brach's candy (555333, then whatever the price on the label said, if the customer actually followed directions and weighed their candy and took the label that printed out...most did not and the registers did not have scales) I want to say that these DPCI numbers were specific to Target.

Something worth noting: The Target store I worked at opened with IBM 4683 registers which had a unique keyboard layout which had 1-2-3 at the top of the numeric keyboard, which was changed about a year later to a more typical layout with 7-8-9 at the top. The 4683 at the time was not in use at all Target locations, not sure if the 3683 was set up like this or not.

Back to Kmart..I always wondered if they ever did consider adding scanning to the NCR 255s they had in use already (possibly as a small test), or if they were considered too dated by the time Kmart decided to implement scanning.

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Re: Kmart checkouts over the years

Post by thatjpwing » 25 Oct 2020 20:00

Super S wrote: 18 Oct 2020 21:44
thatjpwing wrote: 21 Jul 2020 13:38
In the early 1990s Target was indeed running IBM 4683 registers but not with IBM’s General Sales Application but a third party software package. I’m still trying to determine if they contracted that out or if they developed the software in house. The Target receipts had two-digit line numbers but did not include the UPC code of the item, but instead a six-digit SKU. Because I don’t have a lot of familiarity with Target before the early 2000s, I don’t know if Target previously used the two digit department/four digit SKU system before then (like Zayre and Hills did) or if they always just had six digit SKU/item numbers. I’m hoping to find more information on that in the coming months.

At first I thought Target’s current incarnation of Point of Sale software was a derivative of Cornell-Mayo Associates software also found in Barnes and Noble and Belk, but it’s not, as CMA was purchased by Retalix, and the Retalix POS software used in Target Canada was one of the contributors to Target’s quick demise in Canada.

Edit: I should clarify, it was not the Cornell-Mayo Associates software running Target Canada, it was Retalix's software, but if Target US was running CMA, logic would dictate that Retalix's software and Retalix owning CMA software in the states would have had compatibility issues.
The six digit number was a DPCI number at Target, which I was told was used for several years before scanners were in all Target stores, the shorter number was to speed up the lanes by not having to punch in as many numbers on each item. Some items were not scanned, this included magazines (597 and the price, a $2.50 magazine was 597250) and Brach's candy (555333, then whatever the price on the label said, if the customer actually followed directions and weighed their candy and took the label that printed out...most did not and the registers did not have scales) I want to say that these DPCI numbers were specific to Target.

Something worth noting: The Target store I worked at opened with IBM 4683 registers which had a unique keyboard layout which had 1-2-3 at the top of the numeric keyboard, which was changed about a year later to a more typical layout with 7-8-9 at the top. The 4683 at the time was not in use at all Target locations, not sure if the 3683 was set up like this or not.

Back to Kmart..I always wondered if they ever did consider adding scanning to the NCR 255s they had in use already (possibly as a small test), or if they were considered too dated by the time Kmart decided to implement scanning.
Thank you for this information on Target's pre-scanning systems. Interesting about the 4683 keyboards and the telephone style keypad. I never understood why some chains went telephone style and some went calculator style. Sears was telephone style for the longest time, as was JCPenney. I think maybe it had something to do with starting out on Singer-Friden registers in the early 1970s.

Kmart was trialing two different scanning systems at the start, NCR 255/2552 and IBM 3683. Both were unreliable, though the IBM system was less unreliable than the NCR system. I don't know why the NCR 255 was unreliable for Kmart, as that system had already been implemented in grocery store chains and in a few department store chains at the time.

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Re: Kmart checkouts over the years

Post by Super S » 26 Oct 2020 22:46

thatjpwing wrote: 25 Oct 2020 20:00
Thank you for this information on Target's pre-scanning systems. Interesting about the 4683 keyboards and the telephone style keypad. I never understood why some chains went telephone style and some went calculator style. Sears was telephone style for the longest time, as was JCPenney. I think maybe it had something to do with starting out on Singer-Friden registers in the early 1970s.

Kmart was trialing two different scanning systems at the start, NCR 255/2552 and IBM 3683. Both were unreliable, though the IBM system was less unreliable than the NCR system. I don't know why the NCR 255 was unreliable for Kmart, as that system had already been implemented in grocery store chains and in a few department store chains at the time.
The Target store I worked at had the scan guns from the start, but had a few things which did not scan. In addition to the Brach's candy and magazines, this included film developing, some clearance items, and cases of motor oil. Target had a bigger automotive department then, and I remember upsetting a few customers because you had to tear open a case of oil and scan a quart and enter a quantity of 12 to ring up the case.

I have never seen a Kmart with NCR 255s that were scanning, but remember several with IBM 3683s that were scanning....this was the first system I saw used with scanners at Kmart.

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Re: Kmart checkouts over the years

Post by klkla » 26 Oct 2020 22:59

storewanderer wrote: 07 Jun 2020 03:29I always wondered if the odd variety of hardwares was due to the various businesses they had owned previously. I remember for instance Office Max used Fujistu, Borders used NCR, Waldenbooks used IBM. Probably just a coincidence.
There was really no reason for national chains to use unified POS hardware or software in their divisions until the early 2000's. The various divisions were not connected by POS before then. All data was collected by the divisions separately and corporate just tallied the results.

WalMart was the company that really changed everything and everyone played catch up to them during that period.

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