Jun 15, 2015

THE EVOLUTION AND HISTORY OF COURT REPORTING

As we all know, a court reporter is an essential part the legal process responsible for reporting depositions, hearings, trials and Communication access real-time translation (CART), also called open captioning or real-time stenography, or simply real-time captioning.  What many people do not realize is the fact that court reporters have a wide range of responsibilities that do not always include the judicial system.   Court reporters are hired by schools, universities and various other associations and corporations to provide transcripts for meetings, press conferences and speeches.  Humankind has always made an attempt to document history whether it be in the form of prehistoric cave drawings or advanced voice-synced transcripts complete with hyperlinked exhibits. Let’s take a closer look at the history of court reporting.
Shorthand can be traced to the 4th century B.C. where a freed slave named Marcus Tullius Tiro developed a system of symbols and abbreviations in order to transcribe Cicero’s and other Romans’ speeches and legal affairs.  He developed 4,000 signs and symbols, including the “&” symbol which is still used today.   This system of shorthand is referred to as Tironian notes and was taught throughout the European Medieval period in monasteries and grew to extent to 13,000 signs and symbols.
A renewed interest in shorthand came about in the 16th century in England by Timothie Bright, M.D.  In 1588 he published Characterie: An Arte of Shorte, Swifte and Secret Writing by Character which was dedicated to Queen Elizabeth I and created a series of 500 symbols, each symbol representing a word.  Dr. Bright’s treatise was followed by many scholars and clergy members in their letter writing and sermons.  Samuel Pepys wrote his infamous diary in Dr. Bright’s shorthand so that it could not be easily read.  A follower of Dr. Bright’s writings, John Willis published The Art of Stenographie in 1602 which created a new system of short hand based upon the English alphabet, each symbol equivalent for each letter of the alphabet.
In 1750 another follower of Dr. Bright, Thomas Gurney developed yet another English alphabet shorthand system.  Gurney was appointed the first official reporter of the parliament in England in 1772.  In fact, the famous author Charles Dickenson was a parliamentary court reporter before becoming an author and studied Gurney’s techniques.  His struggles in learning shorthand became a subplot in “David Copperfield” and his shorthand notes inspired scenes in “Bleak House and Nicholas Nickleby.”
In 1837 Sir Issac Pitman, an English teacher published Stenographic Soundhand which created a system of phonetic shorthand.   His motto in life was “time saved is life gained.”  The Pitman shorthand has been used for decades and is used throughout the United Kingdom today.  Shorthand eventually came to the United States in 1893 when John Robert Gregg formed a version of shorthand which was based upon cursive rather than symbols and opened schools to teach his method in Boston and Chicago.
Gregg’s shorthand decreased in popularity with the introduction of the shorthand machine which was created and patented by a court reporter named Miles Bartholomew.  The machine was manufactured by Bartholomew’s company, The United States Stenograph Corporation of East St. Louis, Illinois.  This machine changed the face of court reporting at the time, rendered the pen obsolete and paving the path for more technological advances.
Developed by George Kerr Anderson, the Anderson Shorthand Typewriter used English characters instead of the code that the Bartholomew machine created. With this machine, words or syllables could be written on each stroke, a significant advancement in shorthand machine technology. Many stenograph machines followed the Anderson Shorthand Typewriter including the Ireland Stenotype Shorthand Machine, Master Model Stenotype and La Salle Stenotype.
The first Stenograph machine to encode machine notes in computer language on a floppy disk was invented in 1987. This machine is considered the first true court reporting DOS-based machine. Also known as the Stenograph MS-DOS Advanced Real Time writer, it was introduced as the Smart Writer. This model was considered state-of-the-art until the Stentura Stenograph Machine was introduced in 1992.
The Diamante writer was launched at the National Court Reporter’s convention in Chicago, Illinois, with much acclaim. Its TrueStroke technology was quantum leaps above any other mechanical or electronic methodologies for speed and accuracy. It featured a vibrant flat-panel display, two SD cards, two USB ports, and microphone and headset jacks for AudioSync; and optional Bluetooth or WiFi realtime translation. Weighing in at only 4.5 pounds, it lightened the load of the mobile court reporting professional.
The esthetic of the Diamante was applauded by court reporters and even received Appliance Magazine’s Excellence in Design Award for the year 2010.
For over 35 years, Naegeli Deposition and Trial has been known as the industry’s leading choice for court reporting and litigation support. Call our experienced team today at 800.528.3335 to witness the NAEGELI advantage: World class service at the nation’s most competitive rates!