What Is a Transcription Machine?

by Bonnie Conrad

Taking notes and documents from oral form into a written and easily accessible format has always been important. From minute meetings scribbled in shorthand and transcribed on ancient typewriters to court testimony transcribed by court reporters, creating an accurate record of what was said and who said it is an essential part of business and government. Through the years a number of transcribing methods and machines have made the job of converting spoken communication to written form.

Office uses

One of the easiest ways to understand what a transcribing machine is and why it is important is to look at one of its most important uses. Transcribing machines have long been used in the business world, and the increasing number of regulations relating to data retention has made these machines even more important. Keeping an accurate record of who said what in a meeting is very important, not only in the business world but for governmental agencies and non-profits as well. In the event of a lawsuit, these documents could be very important, and keeping an accurate record of spoken communication is one of the most important jobs of the transcribing machine. A few decades ago much of this note taking was done by secretaries who were trained in the use of shorthand. This special language of squiggles and lines was once widely taught in schools, but these days shorthand is very much a dying art. Much of what was once transcribed from shorthand notes is now transcribed using transcribing machines.

Foot Pedals

One of the challenges facing office workers who need to transcribe data is that the average person speaks faster than even the quickest typist can type. That means it is easy for office personnel to miss crucial words and phrases when taking meeting minutes or transcribing office records. To make the job easier, most modern transcribing machines come with a foot pedal that office workers can use to stop or rewind the tape as needed. This makes it easier to hear and transcribe every word.

Variable Speeds

Transcribing machines also provide another way to make it easier to transcribe what is being said accurately and quickly. Variable speeds make it easy for the transcriber to set a speed with which he or she is comfortable, and that can help the worker get the meeting minutes or other reports transcribed more quickly. By slowing down the natural speaking voice, it will be easier to capture every word without constantly rewinding the tape and going back through previously transcribed material. One drawback of this approach is that slowing down the speech too much could make it difficult to tell who is speaking.

Court Reporting

Courts around the country also use transcribing machines, but they use a special transcribing equipment designed specifically for use in the courtroom. Special court transcription shorthand machines are used in local, state and federal courts around the country. In addition many courtrooms have begun to install computer-aided transcribing machines to enhance the efficiency and the accuracy of their court reporting.

Medical Records

The medical industry also makes use of transcription machines, and medical transcribing is a big business. Doctors who are treating patients often record copious notes, and it is the job of the medical transcriber to type that information into the patient's record, where it can be used to devise further treatments and keep track of that patient's progress. Those who transcribe medical records may work in a traditional office, where they use a standard transcribing machine to listen to the comments of doctors and transcribe those comments into each patient's file. These workers may also work from home, using the same type of equipment to accurately transcribe the comments of physicians and other medical professionals.

About the Author

Based in Pennsylvania, Bonnie Conrad has been working as a professional freelance writer since 2003. Her work can be seen on Credit Factor, Constant Content and a number of other websites. Conrad also works full-time as a computer technician and loves to write about a number of technician topics. She studied computer technology and business administration at Harrisburg Area Community College.