History of Stenographs






The History of Court Reporters’ Secret Weapon

Information and graphics presented by stenograph.com

In 1877, the world of court reporting was forever changed by the first shorthand machine (or stenograph). Learn more about how court reporting technology has evolved over the past 150 years by continuing reading.

The Stenograph Shorthand Machine (1877)

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Miles Bartholomew (nicknamed the “Father of the Stenograph”) invented the first shorthand machine in 1877. Ten keys could be depressed one at a time to create a series of dots and dashes similar to Morse code. This was the first machine to be regularly successfully used in the court reporting field.


Ireland Stenotype Shorthand Machine (1911)

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The Universal Stenotype Company made waves with their new machine that was a whole 40 pounds lighter than its predecessor! This was the first stenograph with a totally depressible keyboard, which gave reporters the ability to write numbers and words phonetically with fewer strokes. Business colleges began including instruction of this stenograph in their curriculums


1927 LaSalle Stenotype

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The “Master Model Four” used a two-spool ribbon system. The company did well under M.H. Wright, but unfortunately, the Great Depression cut its life short, and the court reporting profession also slowed down until the end of the 1930’s.


Stenograph Data Writer (1963)

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 This model encoded a magnetic tape with machine notes for computer transcription. Its organ-type switches assured good contact and transmission with minimum key pressure. In 1963 it could be attached to a cable connected to a separate tape recorder. By 1970, cartridge was used instead, and by 1974 cassettes were used.


1987 SmartWriter

Now in the emerging digital age, the SmartWriter had the ability to encode machine notes on a floppy disk. It was considered state-of-the-art technology for its time– that is, until the next machine came along.


2001 élan Cybra

The élan Cybra was all important for transcriptionists, captioners, and CART reporters. It is paperless, inkless, ribbon-less, and greaseless.  In 2006, a new version was introduced that included an optional wireless feature and was specifically designed for realtime transfer.


2005 Stentura Protégé Student

The Stentura Protégé was designed specifically for students. It features a USB and serial connectivity, as well as optional wireless realtime.\


2006 Stentura Fusion

The Stentura Fusion replaced the Stentura LX. The key feature of this machine is its ability to use paper, or to be paperless. Other improvements include compatibility with SD cards, recording live testimony using AudioSync OTG – on the go!, USB and DB9 ports, and battery status display.


2015 The Luminex

The Luminex features innovative technology and software. Duel key channels keep keys in alignment, and chrome plated key levers reduce friction and provide smoother action. The TrueStroke technology results in cleaner steno notes.

Anderson Shorthand Typewriter (1889)

Image titleCreated by George Kerr Anderson. This shorthand machine had the first keyboard that allowed two or more of its keys to be pressed at the same time. Unlike Bartholomew’s machine, this typewriter used English characters instead of code, which allowed words and symbols to be written.


Master Model Stenotype (1914)

Image titleThis machine was also invented by the Universal Stenotype Company, and now weighed only six pounds instead of eleven. Unfortunately, the Universal Stenotype Company went bankrupt during World War I. 


Stenograph Shorthand Machine

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The Secretarial Model used a single 11-inch ribbon. The Secretarial held 100 folds of paper, and the Reporter model held 300. It was known for being dependable and quiet.


1982 Stenograph Machine

This iteration was the first to have a plastic shell, or casing, which made the machine more durable. 


1992 Stenograph Stentura Series

The Stentura was the first machine that featured instantaneous, realtime translation onto an LCD screen. It could be shown either in English, or Steno. 


2003 élan Mira Series

The Mira added the ability to flip the LCD screen upward for easier viewing, and featured Audiosync® OTG – on the go!, a USB port for writing realtime, and a DB9 serial port for use with wireless Bluetooth. This quickly became the standard machine for court reporting.


2005 Stentura élan Mira Student

This machine was also designed students with students in mind, and was known as the “paperless writer for students.” It features the same technology as the professional version, but in a limited fashion at a student price. 


2009 The Diamante

The Diamante’s TrueStroke® technology was leaps above any other steno-machines for speed and accuracy. It features a vibrant flat-panel display, two SD cards, two USB ports, microphone and headset jacks for AudioSync, and optional Bluetooth or WiFi realtime translation. 

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