Rabinow invented machines that could recognize text, making it
possible to automate vast amounts of routine work formerly done
A prolific inventor, Rabinow held more than 200 patents in fields
ranging from optics and ordnance to clocks. His most significant
achievements, however, involved his creation of a field known
as OCR, or Optical Character Recognition. He invented a process
that allowed machine scanners to determine which letters or numbers
were printed on a page. Banks, the postal service, and numerous
industries embraced his technology.
Rabinow's advanced techniques allowed machines to examine all
kinds of text, regardless of font, and make a series of judgments
that determined best matches with standard characters. Over the
years he crafted a series of improvements that made the process
more reliable, eventually incorporating dictionaries into computer
memories so the machines could determine the identity of a smudged
or messy character.
Rabinow, born in the Ukraine, immigrated to Brooklyn, New York
in 1920. After studying electrical engineering at the City University
of New York, he began his long career at the National Bureau of
Standards where he developed OCR.