Throughout the years, court reporting has seen its share of changes. There is no doubt that innovation and technology have helped it evolve, but where did it begin?

The Origin of Shorthand

Court reporting can be traced back to 63 B.C. when a man named Marcus Tullius Tiro worked for Roman philosopher and lawyer Cicero. Tiro took dictation and managed Cicero’s financial matters. In order to transcribe speeches, he developed a system of notation symbols and abbreviations. Tiro’s shorthand system consisted of over 4,000 signs. 

This notation system became known as Tironian notes and was later taught in European monasteries during the Medieval period. The notes eventually expanded to over 13,000 signs, but its use declined after 1100 A.D.

Shorthand Expands to English Speakers

Later, in 1180, John of Tilbury introduced the first shorthand system for English speakers.  However, shorthand wasn’t widely used by English speakers until British physician Timothie Bright published a system of 500 symbols to be used as English shorthand. Bright’s system was popular with scholars and ministers.

Next came John Willis, who published a shorthand system in 1602. His system was based on the English alphabet, rather than symbols. Several other systems were built over the years, including one by Thomas Gurney, who was the first official shorthand writer appointed in 1772.

Court reporters and secretaries in the United States began using shorthand in the late 19th century when John Robert Gregg left England and opened shorthand schools in Boston and Chicago. Gregg’s shorthand method was published in 1893.

Developments in Modern Shorthand and Court Reporting

As technology developed, so did methods of court reporting. In the late 1870s, American court reporter Miles Bartholomew invented the first stenotype machine. Court reporters were able to type faster than they can write, making pens almost unnecessary for shorthand.

Fast forward to the early 20th century when court reporters added recording devices to their stenotype machines, making for a more efficient and accurate method. By the 1940s, stenotype machines had changed the very definition of the word “shorthand ” to include the typed abbreviations.

Today and Beyond

Today’s stenotype machines are similar to computers in that they have microprocessors and LCD screens where the shorthand abbreviations appear in English.

In addition to updated machines, voice recognition adds a new level of technology that continues to improve the quality and speed of court reporting. In fact, speech-to-text translation has an accuracy of 96%.

No matter where technology takes court reporting in the future, you can be assured that we will be there for your reporting needs. Contact us for your deposition today.

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