The Hitachi H-8257 and H-8957 optical character readers were high-performance, general-purpose OCR units for general applications requiring high-speed, centralized processing. They were the world’s first OCR readers that could read handwritten letters and numbers, which was an extremely difficult problem to solve. Designed to be premium models to the H-8959 OCR reader, they were developed with a grant from the former Ministry of International Trade and Industry. The H-8257 was an online model that connected directly to a HITAC 8000 series computer, and the H-8957 was an offline model that output its results to a magnetic tape unit.
Because handwritten characters are subject to so many variations between people and between writing conditions, making a practical OCR reader was a difficult problem. Nevertheless, Hitachi developed a method of obtaining similarities of characters with a special matching process that ensured sufficient reading accuracy for practical applications provided that the characters were written relatively correctly following simple penmanship rules. The machines could read forms ranging from postcard size to A4. And it was possible to design forms close to the original form, including mixing handwritten characters and printed type on the same line. In addition to immediate corrections, where manual verifications of reading results were done in parallel with the reading operation, the readers also had a batch correction function that was run after reading all forms.
Hitachi also completed the Fortran reader, a system that made use of the OCR units. The reader automatically read handwritten Fortran programs (including data), dramatically improving computer data entry operations.
|Readable characters||OCR-A and B fonts (letters and numbers), 407 font, 12F font, N-2 font
46 handwritten letters, numbers, and symbols
|Readable forms||Length: 95 to 305 mm，Width: 75 to 220 mm，Thickness: 0.1 to 0.18 mm (paper weight of 70 to 135 kilograms)|
|Processing speeds||Maximum 400 cards per minute (when reading one line on 95 x 75 mm forms)|
|Sales launch period||1974|