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Stenotype / Shorthand  Machines

A stenotype or shorthand machine is a specialized chorded keyboard or typewriter used by stenographers for shorthand use. A trained court reporter or closed captioner can write speeds of approximately 225 words per minute at very high accuracy. Many users of this machine can even reach 300 words per minute.

The keyboard looks more like a compact piano than a regular alphanumeric keyboard. Multiple keys are pressed simultaneously (known as "chording") to spell out whole syllables, words, and phrases with a single hand motion. This system makes real-time transcription practical for court reporting and live closed captioning.

The first stenotype machine on a punched paper strip was built in 1830 by Karl Drais, then still a baron. An American stenotype machine was patented in 1879 by Miles M. Bartholomew. A French version was created by Marc Grandjean in 1909.

Most modern stenotype keyboards have more in common with computers than they do with typewriters or QWERTY computer keyboards. Most contain microprocessors, and many allow sensitivity adjustments for each individual key. They translate stenotype to English internally using user-specific dictionaries, and most have LCD screens. They typically store a full day's work in non-volatile memory of some type, such as floppy diskette, hard drive, non-volatile RAM, or flash card. These factors influence the price, along with economies of scale, as there are only a few thousand stenotype keyboards sold each year. Top-end models sell for approximately US$ 4,000 each.

Manufacturers of Stenotype Machines and Accessories


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