Character recognition comprises the automatic recognition of printed characters using
optical rasterization (e.g. by scanners
or digital cameras). Simply speaking character recognition is trying to have printed character transcripted by a computer.
The father of character recognition is said to be Lawrence Roberts who conducted first experiments on automatic character recognition on the MIT in 1960. First practical appliances of character recognition as hardware solutions appeared in 1965. Back then the recognition was limited to specially designed fonts like OCR-A and OCR-B. In 1976 Ray Kurzweil developed the first omnifont, i.e. font independent character recognition system. With increasing computer performance software-based character recognition solutions have gained more and more importance since the mid-eighties.
Character recognition can be divided into the processing steps scanning, layout analysis, segmentation, character recognition and dictionary lookup with more and more vanishing boundaries between these steps in modern systems. Typical applications of character recognition are document recognition, archiving systems and forms processing (see FormPro).