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History of Transcription Services

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A Brief History of Transcription Services

history of secretarial transcription services

Back in the old days…

Prior to 1970, transcription was difficult as secretaries had to write down the speech as they heard it using advanced skills, like shorthand before returning to a manual cumbersome typewriter and transcribing the notes into a formatted document.

In those days a person offering secretarial services would necessarily need to be at the location where the service was required. However, with the introduction of recording devices and, in those days, tape cassettes, which became universally available during the course of the 1970s, the work became much easier and new possibilities emerged.

Recordings on cassette brought with them several benefits. First, shorthand was no longer necessary and the secretary had the ability to rewind and re-listen to audio dictation while transcribing work. A second benefit is that cassettes are perfectly portable which meant that the people performing secretarial and transcription services could have the work brought to them in their own office which could be in a different location entirely. A transcription services could feasibly be performed from home provided they met the deadlines required by their employer. However, in the early days of transcription services before email enabled instant delivery of transcribed documents, the need to physically deliver the document back to the person that had provided the audio dictation within a prescribed time placed a limit on the distance of the person providing the transcription service.

With the advanced technology of today, people can have almost anything transcribed very rapidly. Recordings are no longer held on tape but instead are recorded digitally, perhaps by a digital Dictaphone (Olympus, Sony, Grundig and Panasonic are amongst the many manufacturers of this kind of equipment). The recording can then be uploaded to a PC and emailed over the Internet within minutes to someone who could be anywhere in the world as an MP3, WVA or equivalent audio file.  The transcriptionist can then replay the audio many times. The sound can also be filtered, enhanced, equalised, sped up or slowed down as required to properly transcribe the dictation into a document. The completed document can then be emailed back and printed out or incorporated into other documents – all within just a few hours of the original recording being made. As such, geography is no longer a limiting factor in the provision of transcription services.

The industry standard for transcribing an audio file is one hour for every 15 minutes of audio although this will depend largely on the skill and speed of the secretary providing the transcription service.

Transcription work is one of the fastest growing legitimate jobs in the US. It is a flexi-time occupation great for people unable to commit to full time work but wanting to earn extra income by utilising their free time.

All sorts of industry now outsource transcription work due to the greater levels of operational efficiency that may be achieved. Medical transcription, legal transcription, academic transcription and property industry transcription (surveys and building reports) are very common these days.

Transcription work also includes the documenting of meetings, interviews, videos (perhaps for subtitle purposes) and even court proceedings.

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