The earliest type was a wooden ball which ran along sloping rails. One set of rails sloped down from sales desk to cash office and another set sloped in the opposite direction. This was known as a cash railway. William Stickney Lamson of Lowell, Massachusetts patented this system in 1881. His invention soon attracted the interest of other shopkeepers and in 1882 the Lamson Cash Carrier Company was incorporated in Boston. A working example can be seen in the Co-operative store at Beamish Museum in North East England and one is still its original location at Coolamon, New South Wales.
The next type was a carriage suspended on pulleys from a wire between sales desk, launched from a catapult. The best-known types are "Rapid Wire" and "Air-Line."
A later type was the pneumatic tube system, still installed in a few shops. Pneumatic tube systems are also now used in supermarkets for moving cash in bulk from tills to the central cash office.