I'll see your OCR and raise you a pink Flair pen!

judyfaaberg's picture

Back in the mid-80s we (Dave Daly and I, mostly) undertook, so to speak, to scan into DOS (or something that we could import into WordPerfect - memory fails me after all this time) all Washington laws pertaining to death, funeral, cemetery, estate, etc. THEN my task was to lay it out to look just like the official laws and codes, index and cross-reference the whole thing, get it printed and bound and sold to the members of WCFA and the WSFDA. At that time I wasn't working for the WCFA (it was the Washington Interment Association then), I was doing this at home evenings and weekends on a contract with the two associations whilst working full-time at Greenacres Memorial Park in Ferndale.

Anyway: first, we had to hire out the scanning to a very expensive company that was on, at that time, the leading edge of OCR. We got copies of the laws and then I had to go through them all with a pink Flair pen (it HAD to be a Flair and it HAD to be pink) and highlight everything we wanted scanned. If I drew a crooked line, fuggedaboutit. Once I had the document (in a non-windows version of WordPerfect) assembled I went through and indexed every conceivable cross reference I could think of. We ended up with over 2800 entries, as I recall.

The best part: When I was about 90% finished with the indexing we bought a new computer. My husband (at that time) was going to use this new utility called "hotwire" or something and migrate all my files from the old to the new computer. "Did you make a backup?" I asked him. He said this new utility was SO hot, he didn't even need to. You guessed the rest. Back to square one. Needless to say, we're now divorced...

I think I like a  whole lot better the method Joe's using to import all those cool old articles into the reading room.


Scanning OCR in the 1980s, man that is some impressive curriculum vitae material! I guess hanging out with Daly would have you at the cutting edge. I can remember doing some college documents in the mid 1980s, going to my mom's office where she finessed this big term paper using WP. It was like something out of science fiction to see how "automated" the document management and table of contents functions were. In retrospect it was pretty complex. That "hotwire" story, I have to say, made me laugh, if there is such a thing as laughing in horror.