This is a 1983 press photo taken in a Kmart. I don’t know the location of the Kmart, though I can tell you this is one location I had never been in. It would appear the photographer is standing on the checkstand for register #1. I’m surprised to see both registers two and six are designated as express checkouts.

The cashiers are using NCR 255 cash registers, which I’ve never seen in a Kmart. As a vintage technology buff I can tell you the NCR 255 was capable of scanning as early as the mid 1970s, but Kmart really struggled with bringing their store systems into the electronic era. Notice there’s no scanners in the checkstands and the cashier doesn’t have a wired wand anywhere. Undoubtedly the cashier was entering a price and selecting “Key 1”, “Key 2”, etc., as that was the way Kmart designated their departments at the time. Announcements over the PA system would refer to personnel as “Clock” and a number, you had to listen for your “clock” number to know when to respond.

The NCR 255 cash registers were quite sophisticated compared to what I remember from that era at Kmart; the Kmart in Mattydale kept their mechanical cash registers well into the 80s and the Kmart at “Western Lights” in Syracuse had loud NCR 225s that made a lot of banging sounds. Another Kmart near where I went to college had something completely different that wasn’t made by NCR at all.

I have a lot of useless information in my brain.

One thing I found surprising is the stacks of cartons of cigarettes along the express checkout. I had completely forgotten that was a thing back in the day, though now that I think about it I remember the grocery stores in my hometown having a similar arrangement at the registers.

I took a look at the visitor stats for this site for the first time in a very long while; most people come here to visit a page I wrote years ago about the department store chain “W.T. Grants”. Many former employees stop by to reminisce. Other visitors stop by to read about my memories of early computers and cash registers.

I really do enjoy vintage technology. I was doing research on NCR’s minicomputers of the 1970s when I came across this photo via a Google search. Kmart had a huge mish-mash of registers across their stores in the early 1980s until they finally settled down onto one somewhat cohesive system around the same time they ditched the big red “K” with the turquoise “mart”.

That Kmart sign is much bigger than any “Big K” sign I’ve ever seen since that unfortunate switch a couple of decades ago.

Now there’s hardly an Kmarts left in the country. Times are certainly different.