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Five Facts You Didn't Know About Receipts

30th March 2017

During a busy month of purchases, a person can collect up to more than a hundred printed receipts without even thinking about it. They have become a crucial part of life, which many of us take for granted, whether that’s to claim a refund, submit your expenses or simply track your spending.

Our range of mobile printer solutions means that retailers, parking enforcement officers and restaurateurs (to name but a few) can readily produce a printed receipt at a moments notice.

But have you ever thought about where the origins of the printed receipt came from? Here are five interesting facts about its history:

Receipts originated in Jericho

Heading back to around 7500 BC, the first receipts of transaction came in the form of balls of clay to represent the completion of trade. These were usually related to the exchange of livestock or occasionally, beer!

Their importance in auditing 

The practice of keeping receipts for tax purposes is said to stem from ancient Egypt. Farmers and merchants realised the importance of proofs of transaction to protect themselves from tax exploitation. These receipts were typically transcribed on papyrus, or whatever other legible writing materials were available.

London’s printing presses launched mass production

The arrival of the printing press created the ability for users to mass-produce documents which contained unique pieces of text. Realising the value of receipts, banks across London began to use this new technology to begin printing their own branded versions, which customers could use as a proof of ownership when collecting gold from their vault.

World’s longest receipt

Generated in New York City, the story behind the world’s longest customer receipt is a bit of a tearjerker!

A struggling grocery store called ‘Hercules Fancy Grocery’ was about to lose its lease and go out of business due to piling debts. A charity heard about the store’s situation and decided to help. They turned up to the shop and bought every single item from the store, at a cost of almost $19,000.

More than 3,000 items were purchased, which took more than six hours to process through the till. Once the receipt was printed, it was a whopping 57.5 feet long.

The arrival of thermal printing

Thermal printing has been around for decades and is now the most commonly used form of receipt printing due to its low cost and ease of use.

As the name suggests, heat is the powerhouse of thermal printing, and contains hundreds of dots to create patterns. Once heated, the thermo-sensitive paper that passes through the printer creates the required words and images. This is also the technology we use across our product portfolio at Able Systems.

Aside from receipt printing, this technology has also been used in ECG machines in hospitals to track patient’s heartbeats and even in the Nintendo Game Boy, which released its Game Boy printer in 1998.

Take a look in your pocket, you may find a piece of thermal print in there!