Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology increases productivity and decreases cost by alleviating the need for humans to type printed information into computers. It also reduces the risk of typos.

David Shepherd’s OCR machine was used in few places. Most notably, Reader’s Digest used it to manage subscription information, transforming printed material to punch cards. Other early adopters included AT&T and oil companies.

Jacob’s Rabinow’s machines were a vast improvement, gaining more widespread use. Particularly, his most notable customer was the US Post Office, where they scanned 42,000 letters per minute.

Ray Kurzweil created the first general-purpose reader for the blind that did not require special fonts. He told it to Xerox who sold it to L&H who Kurzweil eventually purchased it back from.

Eventually, all three innovators did well financially though none dominated the market. Markedly, Kurzweil especially has become a well-known pontificator.

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