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History of Speech & Voice Recognition and Transcription Software

Medical Transcription software for Doctors and Physicians.




1936 AT&T's Bell Labs produced the first electronic speech synthesizer called the Voder (Dudley, Riesz and Watkins). This machine was demonstrated in the 1939 World Fairs by experts that used a keyboard and foot pedals to play the machine and emit speech.

1969 John Pierce of Bell Labs said automatic speech & voice  recognition will not be a reality for several decades because it requires artificial intelligence.

Early 1970's The Hidden Markov Modeling (HMM) approach to speech & voice recognition was invented by Lenny Baum of Princeton University and shared with several ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency) contractors including IBM. HMM is a complex mathematical pattern-matching strategy that eventually was adopted by all the leading speech& voice recognition companies including Dragon Systems, IBM, Philips, AT&T and others.

1971 DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) established the Speech Understanding Research (SUR) program to develop a computer system that could understand continuous speech. Lawrence Roberts, who initiated the program, spent $3 million per year of government funds for 5 years. Major SUR project groups were established at CMU, SRI, MIT's Lincoln Laboratory, Systems Development Corporation (SDC), and Bolt, Beranek, and Newman (BBN). It was the largest speech recognition project ever.

1978 The popular toy "Speak and Spell" by Texas Instruments was introduced. Speak and Spell used a speech chip which led to huge strides in development of more human-like digital synthesis sound.

1982 Covox founded. Company brought digital sound (via The Voice Master, Sound Master and The Speech Thing) to the Commodore 64, Atari 400/800, and finally to the IBM PC in the mid ‘80s.

1982 Dragon Systems was founded by speech industry pioneers Drs. Jim and Janet Baker. Dragon Systems is well known for its long history of speech and language technology innovations and its large patent portfolio.

1984 SpeechWorks, the leading provider of over-the-telephone automated speech recognition (ASR) solutions, was founded.

1993 Covox sells its products out to Creative Labs, Inc.

1995 Dragon released discrete word dictation-level speech recognition software. It was the first time dictation speech & voice recognition technology was available to consumers. IBM and Kurzweil followed a few months later.

1996 Charles Schwab is the first company to devote resources towards developing up a speech recognition IVR system with Nuance. The program, Voice Broker, allows for up to 360 simultaneous customers to call in and get quotes on stock and options... it handles up to 50,000 requests each day. The system was found to be 95% accurate and set the stage for other companies such as Sears, Roebuck and Co., and United Parcel Service of America Inc., and E*Trade Securities to follow in their footsteps.

1996 BellSouth launches the world's first voice portal, called Val and later Info By Voice.

1997 Dragon introduced "Naturally Speaking", the first "continuous speech" dictation software available (meaning you no longer need to pause between words for the computer to understand what you're saying).

1998 Lernout & Hauspie bought Kurzweil. Microsoft invested $45 million in Lernout & Hauspie to form a partnership that will eventually allow Microsoft to use their speech & voice recognition technology in their systems.

1999 Microsoft acquired Entropic, giving Microsoft access to what was known as the "most accurate speech & voice recognition system" in the world.

2000 Lernout & Hauspie acquired Dragon Systems for approximately $460 million.

2000 TellMe introduces first world-wide voice portal.

2000 NetBytel launched the world's first voice enabler, which includes an on-line ordering application with real-time Internet integration for Office Depot.

2001 ScanSoft closes acquisition of Lernout & Hauspie Speech and Language Assets.

2003 ScanSoft Ships Dragon NaturallySpeaking 7 Medical, Lowers Healthcare Costs through Highly Accurate Speech Recognition.

2003 ScanSoft closes acquisition of SpeechWorks International, Inc. anmd makes a deal to distribute and support IBM ViaVoice Desktop Products.

2005 ScanSoft becomes Nuance, Inc.


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