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Friday, September 29, 2006

Apology and Retraction

I have a tremendously bad headache this afternoon, the kind that feels like someone is jabbing an ice pick into my frontal lobe about an inch above my left eye so I really do not feel like writing right now.  The staccato sound of JAWS echoing my keystrokes through my Logitech headphones definitely does not help the headache so, do to my current discomfort, this item will be short.

I thank reader and commenter Stephen for correcting my history of scan and read machines for people with vision impairments.  As I’ve stated before in these pages, I write off the top of my head and do not fact check my articles.  I do not consider myself to be a journalist but, an author of creative non-fiction as well as the occasional short story.  Thus, I wrote from memory about the history of scan and read machines and will admit that my personal relationship with Jim clearly influenced my opinion of the history of scan and read products.  Ray Kurzweil, , whom I do not know personally, and regrettably I slighted his contributions and wrote an inaccurate correction to Stephen’s comment.

I did not wish to denigrate Ray’s contribution in any way but, rather, celebrate the lesser known contributions that Jim has made throughout his long and distinguished career.  As far as I know, ray Kurzweil is a great guy and, clearly, I got my history wrong.

I apologize for slighting Stephen by dismissing his remarks out of hand and using my memory, informed mostly by stories people have told me about the history of AT as I was just 14 in 1974, could see well then and scan and read machines didn’t cross my pot smoking, heavy metal kid head at that point in my life.

I stand corrected and am sorry for unintentionally denigrating Kurzweil’s contributions in favor of what I honestly believed to have been the truth.  

I do believe still that everything I wrote about Jim, his career at CalTech and fft based OCR technology is true.  I had not known that he, as well as Kurzweil, had sold OCR systems based on different algorithms before fft made it into the mainstream.

I, of course, still consider Jim to be one of a very small group of people I have known who have made profound contributions in this industry and to promoting access for people with disabilities in general.  

Now, I’m going to put a hot pack back onto my eyes and pray this headache goes away soon.

-- End

2 Comments:

Blogger Chairman Mal said...

Howdy Comrades! Well, we’re sure glad that’s been cleared up. Both guys are welcome to accept honorary BPP Commissar Status in our tech department any old time they are of a mind to do so. Hey, BC, did you notice old Mr. Gilbert picked up an article about Ann Richards from my Blog? Of course, I’m not one to take on airs. I am please, however, that my prose has finally reached a wider audience who can admire its eloquence and down-home trutheyness! You’d better review those signs for stroke I read about in Blind News, BC, and lay off writing for a bit. Regards, Chairman Mal: Power to the Peeps!

6:13 PM  
Anonymous Stephen said...

Thank you, and I'm enjoying your blog. Its all, of course, ancient history anyway, though it is of interest to some of us. By the way, the very first attempt at computer based character recognition go back way before either of those guys (early 50's, I think) and was done with the explicit goal of developing a reading machine for the Blind.

10:59 AM  

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