In C, the register storage class specifier indicates to the compiler that the object should be stored in a machine register. The register storage class specifier is typically specified for heavily used variables, such as a loop control variable, in the hopes of enhancing performance by minimizing access time. However, the compiler is not required to honor this request. Because of the limited size and number of registers available on most systems, few variables can actually be put in registers.
In C++ it is simply an unused reserved keyword, but it's reasonable to assume that it was kept for syntactical compatibility with C code.