National Cash Register, NCR, of Dayton, Ohio, was once the premier industry in the United States for many years. Its founder, John Patterson, was an incredible visionary and a true leader in business and sales practices, many of which are still incorporated in today’s business.
One thing in my research that stood out:
“At [Patterson’s] death in 1922, according to a corporate history compiled in 1984, ‘an estimated one-sixth of the heads of the nation’s major corporations were former NCR men who spread the Patterson methods throughout the U.S. business world.’” Murial Jacobs, “Antiques: The Incorruptible Cashier Lives,” The New York Times, January 12, 1986, p. 23.
The alumni of NCR included:
- Hugh Chalmers, of the eponymous automobile company
- Henry Theobald, founder of Toledo Scale
- Charles F. Kettering of General Motors
- Richard Grant of Reynolds & Reynolds
- Thomas J. Watson of IBM, would later say, “Nearly everything I know about building a business comes from Mr. Patterson.” (Watson and Petre, 1990, p. 13.)
The learning in question included familiarity with the rougher aspects of NCR’s competitive practices. Watson was picked by Patterson to develop a second-hand register business charged with “knocking out” rival establishments (Rodgers, 1969, pp. 40ff). He later was directly involved in a cash register “war” with the Michigan Cash Register Company, a war that served as the basis for the Department of Justice antitrust second antitrust suit against NCR.