Intelligent Machines Research Corporation

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Intelligent Machines Research Corporation (IMR) was founded by David H. Shepard and William Lawless, Jr. in 1952 to commercialize the work Shepard had done with the help of Harvey Cook in building "Gismo", a machine later called the "Analyzing Reader".

IBM obtained a license on IMR's patents in 1953 and in 1955 contracted with IMR to build a developmental system which was able to read constrained hand printed numeric characters if reasonably well formed. However, IBM did not market this system. In 1959 IBM did market a system of its own, classifying it as an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) system, and the term OCR from then on has been standard in the industry for this technology.

IMR went on to deliver the world's first several commercially used systems, including one used by Readers Digest in its book subscription department. Readers Digest donated this system many years later to the Smithsonian, where it was once put on display. The second system was sold to the Standard Oil Company of California, as arranged by the Farrington Manufacturing Company, a leading company in the credit card business at that time, with many systems to read oil company credit cards to follow, one of which was also on display at the Smithsonian later on.

In 1959 Farrington acquired IMR, and the numeric font designed by Shepard, called Farrington 7B, has been standard for most of the well known credit cards since that time. Shepard later left Farrington and founded Cognitronics Corporation in 1962.[1]

Both Shepard and Lawless had been NSA employees at one time. Lawless later held key positions in IBM.


  1. ^ Douglas Martin (December 11, 2007). "David H. Shepard, 84, Dies; Optical Reader Inventor". New York Times. Retrieved June 5, 2010.