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Did You Know?
February 2008

Did You Know?
by Ken Carr
February 2008


            …the NCR Archive is considered a national treasure by many historians.  The Archive, which documents the history of NCR from its beginning through the 1900’s, not only tells the local NCR story but also reflects the Company’s contribution on a national and international level.

            Mr. Patterson was a true pioneer and innovator in the business world. Among his many concepts were: sales techniques still in use today, classes for salesmen, factory workers, and employee family members, educational advertising, health awareness programs, incentive programs, improved work environment, health care, health insurance, recreation programs, neighborhood/city improvements and many others.  The NCR Archive documents this history in print with books, newsletters, sales material, engineering drawings, scrapbooks, advertising material, technical material, letters, and business documents.  It is also documented through photographs, negatives, and slides of people, places, and events throughout the world.

            The center piece of the collection is 350 wood and brass cash registers.  Many of these register are “one of a kind” and represent not only NCR but many competitive brands. Also in the Archive are other NCR produced products such as adding machines, calculators, accounting machines, ATM’s, scanners, change dispensers, printers, and computers, including a Class 304 and a 315.  The collection has over 900 machines. Other artifacts include Mr. Patterson’s factory desk,  his personal library, his teaching charts, machinery from the first factory, a complete series of the NCR News dating from 1887, a model of the rescue boats built by the Company during the 1913 flood in Dayton, and the lab where vacuum tube research led to the development of an encoder that broke the German Enigma code during WWII.  

            The collection contains over 1,500,000 visual images.  There are 68,000 Magic Lantern glass slides (1884 to 1922). These slides were among the first to be used for image projection.  Many were hand colored.  There are 100,000 glass plate negatives (1885 to 1922). These negatives contain the earliest images of the company and document the NCR cash register story around the world. There are 24,000 pictures of businesses where NCR cash registers were installed.  There are some 60,000 picture slides including about 750 stereo slides.   There are over 5000 reels of motion picture film, some dating to the earliest days of  film making.  Regular negatives and photographs make up the balance of the 1,500,000 images.

            In 1998 the NCR Archive was turned over to the Montgomery County Historical Society (now Dayton History at The Archive Center). In 1999 the collection was moved from NCR Building 28 to its present location at  224 North St. Clair Street in Dayton, Ohio. At that time the staff at The Archive Center along with volunteers began to define, document and preserve the NCR collection.  Much work has been done but much more still remains. The total collection contains about 3,000,000 items

            The REA Board would like to encourage REA members in the Dayton area to consider volunteering at The Archive Center to work with the NCR collection. Volunteer hours are 9:00AM to 4:00PM Monday through Thursday.  You can volunteer as many hours a day as you like for as many days a week as you choose.  The staff at The Archive Center will work with your availability to create a flexible schedule.  Especially needed are volunteers to do data entry. The data bases are already established and just limited computer skills are required. The staff will teach you everything you need to know.

            Another  program needing volunteers is the REA Oral History Project. The purpose of this project is to interview and record the working experiences of retired NCR employees.  To date, about 75 histories have been documented.   The Archive Center provides the recording equipment and space for the interviews.  The REA and The Archive Center believe the Oral History Project enhances the understanding of the NCR Archive and that it is a project well worth continuing. Volunteers are needed to do that.

            If you are interested in helping with data entry, or with the Oral History Project, or are interested in volunteering in some other capacity, please contact Jeff Opt, NCR Archivist, on 937-293-2841, Ext 116 or by e-mail at jopt@daytonhistory.org.  Jeff can answer any questions you have and can provide more detail about being a volunteer at The Archive Center.  Give it some thought.  It’s a great way to learn about NCR history and in doing so you get to help preserve a national treasure.