Transcription Facts



Published: 25 Oct 2022

Text sign showing Transcription

Though often associated with artificial intelligence, transcription actually has a long history that dates back to the days of early humans. Its importance as well as its accuracy has improved greatly over the years, but there are still some interesting facts about transcription that may surprise you.

In this article, we will explore 11 of the most interesting facts about transcription.

What is AI Transcription?

AI transcription is the process of converting speech into text. There are different methods of doing it, but the most common is through the use of speech recognition software. This type of software recognizes spoken words and then converts them into text read by a computer.

History in a Nutshell

The first recorded instance of transcription was in the year 1215. A monk named John of Worcester transcribed a sermon that was given by Pope Innocent III. This was done in order to preserve the pope’s words so that they could be read by future generations.

In the year 1455, Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. This made it possible for books to be mass-produced. This meant that more people had access to books and the written word. As a result, transcription became even more important as a way to preserve the words of important people.

AI transcription entered our lives in the year 1961 when IBM developed a program called SHRDLU. This program could recognize and respond to natural language commands. While it was not perfect, it was a major step forward in the development of artificial intelligence.

The accuracy of AI transcription has improved greatly over the years based on advances in artificial intelligence and speech recognition technology. Today, you can find transcription in a wide variety of purposes including medical transcription, legal transcription, and business transcription.

Typing on the vintage typewriter

11 Interesting Facts About Transcription That You May Not Have Known

  1. The word “transcription” comes from the Latin trans, meaning “across,” and scribes, meaning “to write.” Hence, transcription literally means “to write across.”
  2. The first known transcription was of the Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics on the Rosetta Stone. The Rosetta Stone is a large stone slab that was carved with inscriptions in three different scripts.
  3. In the early days of transcription, people used quills and ink to transcribe documents. It took a long time to transcribe a document using this method, and the results were often not very accurate.
  4. The first mechanical transcription device was the typewriter. Invented in 1867, the typewriter was a great improvement over the quill and ink method, but it was still not very accurate.
  5. The first electronic transcription device was the Dictaphone. Invented in 1879, the Dictaphone was a great improvement over the typewriter, and it was much more accurate.
  6. The first audio transcription device was the phonograph. Invented in 1877, the phonograph was a great improvement over the Dictaphone, and it was much more accurate.
  7. Finally, the first digital transcription device was the computer. Invented in the early 1940s, the computer was a great improvement over the phonograph, and it was much more accurate. This invention also helped create software that improves digital accessibility to this day.
  8. The first instance of automatic speech recognition (ASR) was in 1952 by Bell Labs. This system could only recognize a few hundred words. On the other hand, the latest ASR systems can recognize up to 10,000 words.
  9. In the early days of ASR, the accuracy was often quite poor. Technology then was not yet advanced enough to be able to accurately recognize the spoken word. Later, in the 1970s, the accuracy of ASR improved greatly due to advances in artificial intelligence and speech recognition technology. 2010 was a breaking point when the ASR systems became more accurate than human transcriptionists (in some situations) for the first time.
  10. Transcriptions are common in the legal field to create transcripts of court proceedings. Court reporters use a special type of transcription called “stenography” to transcribe court proceedings. A famous judge said that “transcription is the engine of our legal system”. Consequently, it provides an accurate record of hearings for court use as evidence.
  11. The first interview transcribed by AI was between two IBM employees in 1992. The subject of the interview was the history of artificial intelligence.


From the facts listed above, it is evident transcription has come a long way over the years. It is now an essential part of our lives and it plays a vital role in preserving important speeches. If you have ever needed to transcribe a document, then you should be grateful for the amazing technology that we have today. This is just the beginning, the accuracy of transcription is only going to get better and better with time.