Timeline of optical character recognition

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This is a timeline of optical character recognition.



Time periodSummary
1870–1931Earliest ideas of optical character recognition (OCR) are conceived. Fournier d'Albe's Optophone and Tauschek's Reading Machine are developed as devices to help the blind read. [1]
1931–1954First OCR tools are invented and applied in industry, able to interpret Morse code and read text out loud. The Intelligent Machines Research Corporation is the first company created to sell such tools.
1954–1974The Optacon, the first portable OCR device, is developed. Similar devices are used to digitise Reader's Digest coupons and postal addresses. Special typefaces are designed to facilitate scanning. [1] [2] [3]
1974–2000Scanners are used massively to read price tags and passports. [4] Companies such as Caere Corporation, ABBYY and Kurzweil Computer Products Inc, are created. The latter one develops the first omni-font OCR software, capable of reading any text document. [5]
2000–2016OCR software is made available online for free, through products like Adobe Acrobat, WebOCR, and Google Drive. [6] [7]


YearEvent typeTechnologyDetails
1870InventionAmerican inventor Charles R. Carey invents the retina scanner, an image transmission system using a mosaic of photocells, considered the first OCR invention in the world. [1]
1885InventionImage scanner Paul Nipkow invents the Nipkow disk, an image scanning device that later will be a major breakthrough both for modern television and reading machines. [8]
1900InventionRussian scientist Tyurin envisions the first OCR machine to serve as an aid to the visually handicapped, but never manages to develop it. [1]
1912ProductText-to-speech Edmund Fournier d'Albe develops the Optophone, a handheld scanner that when moved across a printed page, produces tones that corresponded to specific letters or characters, so as to be interpreted by a blind person. [9] [10]
1916PatentAmerican engineer John B. Flowers patents the "One-Eyed Machine Stenographer", a machine capable of reading and typing a script. It worked by superimposing all the letters to find a point that marked each of them. [11]
1921InventionText-to-tactile sensationsItalian professor Ciro Codelupi envisions the "Reading machine for the blind", capable of transforming luminous sensations into tactile sensations. [12]
1929InventionAustrian engineer Gustav Tauschek creates the first OCR device called the "Reading Machine", with a photo-sensor pointing light on words when they corresponded to a content template in its memory. [13]
1931PatentText-to-telegraphIsraeli physicist and inventor Emanuel Goldberg is granted a patent for his "Statistical machine" (US Patent 1838389), which was later acquired by IBM. It was described as capable of reading characters and converting them into standard telegraph code. [1]
1938InventionMIT professor Vannevar Bush develops the Microfilm Rapid Selector, a similar but simpler Goldberg' statistical machine, and 40 times faster. [14]
1949ApplicationEngineers working on the Radio Corporation of America start a project to help the blind and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, using the first text-to-speech techniques. [15]
1951InventionText & Morse-to-speechAmerican cryptoanalyst David H. Shepard and Harvey Cook Jr. build "Gismo", a machine able to read aloud letter by letter and interpret Morse code (U.S. Patent 2,663,758).
1952CompanyThe Intelligent Machines Research Corporation is founded by D. Shepard and William Lawless Jr, to commercialise Gismo (later renamed to "Analysing Reader"). [16]
1954ApplicationAmerican magazine Reader's Digest becomes the first business to install an OCR reader, used to convert typewritten sales reports into punched cards. [1]
1962InventionPortabilityStanford professor John Linvill develops the Optacon, the first portable reading device for the blind. [17]
1965ApplicationReader's Digest expands its OCR use to digitise serial numbers of coupons. with a RCA 501 computer.[ citation needed ]
1965InventionAmerican inventor Jacob Rabinow develops an OCR machine to sort mail from the US Post Office. [3]
1966InventionHandwriting scannerThe IBM Rochester lab develops the IBM 1287, the first scanner capable of reading any handwritten numbers. [18]
1966PatentLinvill is granted the patent for the Optacon, described as "Reading aid for the blind" (U.S. patent 3229387).
1968InventionTypefaces American Type Founders and Swiss designer Adrian Frutiger introduced OCR-A and OCR-B; typefaces made to facilitate OCR operations. [2] [19]
1969The US Army implemented what may have been one of the first major applications using OCR technology by converting their manual allotment program to a centralized system using IBM 360 computers. The process involved the purchase of IBM Selectric typewriters using Time Roman font 12 for all of its finance offices around the world. This application allowed all military personnel to allot portions of their paycheck through automated payroll deductions to pay bills, send to savings, etc. which eliminated monthly processing. The success of this program paved the way for all military services to follow and eventually led to the conversion to a fully automated pay system years later.[ citation needed ]
1971ApplicationPostal scannerCanadian postal operator Canada Post starts using OCR systems, to read the name and address on the envelopes and to print barcodes, using ultraviolet ink (U.S. Patent 5420403). [20]
1974CompanyOmni-fontAmerican inventor Ray Kurzweil creates Kurzweil Computer Products Inc., which develops the first omni-font OCR software, able to recognize text printed in virtually any font. [4]
1976CompanyDallas company Recognition Equipment Inc. is founded to read credit card receipts from gasoline purchases (U.S. Patent 4027141). [8]
1977CompanyCommercialisation Robert Noyce founds the Caere Corporation (now Nuance Communications), and introduces the first commercial handheld OCR reader. [21]
1978ProductKurzweil Computer Products begins selling a commercial version of the OCR computer program, called the "Kurzweil Reading Machine". [5]
1980SellingKurzweil's company is sold to Xerox, who renamed it as Scansoft (now merged with Nuance Communications). [8]
1984ProductPassport scannerCaere Corporation develops the first passport scanner for the U.S. State Department. [22]
1987ApplicationPrice tag scannerAmerican retailers Sears, Kmart and J.C. Penney start using OCR to scan price tags. [20]
1989CompanyOCR Russian company ABBYY is founded by David Yang, and starts selling products intended to simplify converting paper files to digital data. [23]
1992InventionThe first program that recognizes Cyrillic is invented by Russian company OKRUS. [1]
2000ApplicationOnline serviceOCR technology is made available online as a service (WebOCR), in a cloud computing environment, as well as in mobile applications like real-time translation of foreign-language signs on a smartphone. [24]
2005ApplicationSoftwareThe free cross-platform OCR engine Tesseract is published by Hewlett Packard and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
2008Application Adobe Acrobat starts including support for OCR on any PDF file. [7]
2011ApplicationWord-frequency lookup Google Ngram Viewer is developed to chart frequencies of words on any source printed from 1950 to 2008. [25] [26]
2013ApplicationThe MNIST database is created to train machine learning models in pattern recognition. [27]
2015ApplicationOpen accessGoogle offers OCR tools to scan any Google Drive files in over 200 languages for free. [6]

See also

Related Research Articles

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Monospaced font</span> Font whose characters occupy the same amount of horizontal space

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Optical Mark Recognition (OMR), collects data from people by identifying markings on a paper. OMR enables the hourly processing of hundreds or even thousands of documents. For instance, students may remember completing quizzes or surveys that required them to use a pencil to fill in bubbles on paper. A teacher or teacher's aide would fill out the form, then feed the cards into a system that grades or collects data from them.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Data entry clerk</span>

A data entry clerk, also known as data preparation and control operator, data registration and control operator, and data preparation and registration operator, is a member of staff employed to enter or update data into a computer system. Data is often entered into a computer from paper documents using a keyboard. The keyboards used can often have special keys and multiple colors to help in the task and speed up the work. Proper ergonomics at the workstation is a common topic considered.

Automatic identification and data capture (AIDC) refers to the methods of automatically identifying objects, collecting data about them, and entering them directly into computer systems, without human involvement. Technologies typically considered as part of AIDC include QR codes, bar codes, radio frequency identification (RFID), biometrics, magnetic stripes, optical character recognition (OCR), smart cards, and voice recognition. AIDC is also commonly referred to as "Automatic Identification", "Auto-ID" and "Automatic Data Capture".

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Optical music recognition (OMR) is a field of research that investigates how to computationally read musical notation in documents. The goal of OMR is to teach the computer to read and interpret sheet music and produce a machine-readable version of the written music score. Once captured digitally, the music can be saved in commonly used file formats, e.g. MIDI and MusicXML . In the past it has, misleadingly, also been called "music optical character recognition". Due to significant differences, this term should no longer be used.

A reading machine is a piece of assistive technology that allows blind people to access printed materials. It scans text, converts the image into text by means of optical character recognition and uses a speech synthesizer to read out what it has found.

ABBYY FineReader PDF is an optical character recognition (OCR) application developed by ABBYY, with support for PDF file editing since v15. The program runs under Microsoft Windows 7 or later, and Apple macOS 10.12 Sierra or later. The first version was released in 1993.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">OCR-A</span> Typeface designed for early computer OCR

OCR-A is a font issued in 1966 and first implemented in 1968. A special font was needed in the early days of computer optical character recognition, when there was a need for a font that could be recognized not only by the computers of that day, but also by humans. OCR-A uses simple, thick strokes to form recognizable characters. The font is monospaced (fixed-width), with the printer required to place glyphs 0.254 cm apart, and the reader required to accept any spacing between 0.2286 cm and 0.4572 cm.

Forms processing is a process by which one can capture information entered into data fields and convert it into an electronic format. This can be done manually or automatically, but the general process is that hard copy data is filled out by humans and then "captured" from their respective fields and entered into a database or other electronic format.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">OCR-B</span> Typeface

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Google Ngram Viewer</span> Online search engine

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Scan-Optics LLC, founded in 1968, is an enterprise content management services company and optical character recognition (OCR) and image scanner manufacturer headquartered in Manchester, Connecticut.

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