Point of Sale

What Does Point of Sale Mean?

Point of sale (POS) refers to the physical location at which goods or services are purchased and transaction data is captured through electronic cash registers or other electronic devices such as magnetic card readers, optical and bar code scanners or some combination of these.


Techopedia Explains Point of Sale

Early electronic cash registers (ECRs) were the first POS devices with proprietary software and limited functions. In 1973, IBM announced that it had two POS devices: IBM 3650 and 3660 Store Systems, which were store controllers for 128 POS registers. This represented the first commercial use of several technologies: client/server technology, peer-to-peer communications, local area networking, simultaneous backup and remote initialization. The next year, these were installed in Pathmark and Dillard’s stores in New Jersey.

Nowadays, POS software can run on many types of computers or devices as long as you have an Internet connection. Although retailers are the predominant users of POS terminals, restaurant businesses and corporate offices and hotel businesses employ many innovative customized POS terminals and peripherals as well. Key requirements for modern POS software include ease of use, fast processing, remote supportability, reliability, low cost and rich functionality.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.