A Brief History of your Everyday Paper Receipt

Friday November 11, 2022

The history of the receipt is a topic that you may not have had much thought about however, it is a fairly interesting one. Similar to the way we now receive receipts after completing a purchase, the same practice happened thousands of years ago. Some of the earliest forms of receipts date back to 7500B.C., although they looked a lot different to the way they are now. In this blog post, we have provided you with a simple timeline, showing the development of receipts throughout the years till now.

Where does the word ‘receipt’ originate from?

‘Receipt’ was coined from the Latin word for receive, recipere, and the Old North French word for recipe, receite. Both of which, throughout the many years, have had a general meaning of receiving something into one’s possession, or creating a formula that would be given to someone. To this day, ‘receipt’ still obtains pretty much the same definition. A receipt is a document or written acknowledgement that shows evidence of a transfer of goods or services, usually from one party to another.

The first receipts

The first form of a receipt is believed to have originated in Samaria, in present-day Palestine, back in 7500B.C. However, it was not transcribed on paper but, in fact, on a small block of clay. These receipts were made to document purchases for products such as cattle, livestock, grain, and beer, which would be kept on clay tablets to show evidence of the transaction.

Following this, the Egyptians began creating receipts out of papyrus, which is a thick material, taken from the pith of a papyrus plant. These receipts were predominantly used for tax purposes, as merchants began to realise the importance of evidence, to avoid tax exploitation.

The Renaissance

Moving to the 14th Century, receipts started to become more mainstream, as the printing press was invented in Germany by Johannes Gutenberg. After the printer created the first bible in physical form, they started manufacturing receipt books, which banks began to use to show proof of the trade of gold.

20th Century

Although receipt books were a huge step forward, they started to become more in demand, and banks needed a more efficient way of printing receipts. In the late 19th Century to the early 20th Century, the National Cash Register Company (NCR) created a mechanical cash register, which produced a receipt in just one hand movement. By 1914, the NCR became the largest printing company in the United States.

The beginning of thermal paper started in 1969, which no longer required the need for expensive ink. The introduction of thermal paper also meant more information could be translated onto the paper, including the date and time of the transaction.

21st Century

The invention of thermal paper takes us to the present day, as is it still used in a wide range of industries. We also now have BPA-free and Phenol-free rolls available, following the ban of Bisphenol A in thermal paper 2020. These papers are more environmentally friendly and less harmful to human health, illustrating how far paper rolls and receipts have come.

In 2011, the longest receipt in the world was produced in New York City, which was longer than 57.5 feet! Hercules Fancy Grocery was an independent grocery shop that was at risk of closing down due to rising prices. However, after hearing about their circumstances, a charity decided to help the business by purchasing over 3,000 items, totalling around $19,000.

Here at BPC UK, we have been supplying and manufacturing paper receipt rolls since 1977, when thermal paper started to become popular. Since then, we have created an extensive range of high-quality paper rolls, with BPA-free and Phenol-Free variations now available. If you are interested in purchasing one of our paper roll products, please feel free to contact us today at 01772 622804 and we will be more than happy to assist you with your paper roll requirements.

Receipt Printer with paper shopping bill.

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