Wednesday, December 12, 2007

RDC Continues Meteoric Growth

Alabama Power Company: Supervisor of Remittance Processing
Alliance Bank: VP/ Director of Information Technology
Allstate Insurance Company: Associate Consultant
American National Property & Casualty Co.: Sr Premium Payment Specialist
AmeriGas Propane: Director of Revenue Mangement
Ameriprise Financial INC: Director Document & Payment Operations
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama Manager-Cash Management & Investments
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama Operations Manager-Payment Processing
Capital One Auto Finance Payment Processing Sr. Unit Manager
CenterPoint Energy Director of Remittance
Christian Broadcasting Network, Inc. Manager-Remittance Processing
CNH Capital America LLC Mgr, Cash Processing and Processing Svs
County of Orange Cash Manager
Customs & Border Protection Office of Training and Development
Department of Defense Senior Technical Advisor
Department of Homeland Security Chief Knowledge Officer
Duke Power Company Collect Process Design Specialist
Eastern Bank AVP
Father Flanagan's Boys Home Lockbox Manager
Fifth Third Processing Solutions Vice President - Relationship Management
First American Real Estate Tax Svs Director of Operations
Florida Power & Light Company Customer Billing Supervisor
Illinois National Bank Vice President
Indiana Department of Revenue Administrator of the Returns Processing
JPMorgan Chase & Company Executive Director, Receivables Product Mgt.
Library of Congress Acting Chief
LifeWay Christian Resources Manager of Accounts Payable
M & I Bank Vice President
Maryland Health Care Commission Division Chief - Center for Health IT
Media General, Inc. Remittance Processing Manager
Morgan Stanley Executive Director
Navy Federal Credit Union Manager, Remittance Processing
New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance State Coordinator
New York City Department of Education Technology Instructor
North American Membership Group, Inc. Operations Manager
Northwestern Mutual Director, Shared Services
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Office of Tax & Revenue Branch Chief Receipt & Archive Branch
Office of the General Counsel Director of Litigation
Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector Chief Assistant Treasurer-Tax Collector
Palmetto GBA Director
Pediatric Associates of Richmond Information Technology Specialist
Pepco Holdings, Inc. Business Systems Project Manager
PNC Bank Vice President, Sr.Product Manager
Portland General Electric Company Manager - Revenue Collection
PSE&G District Manager - Customer Operations
Richland County Information Technology Business Systems Division ManagerSkechers USA ACCOUNTS PAYABLE MANAGERSOURCECORP BPS Inc Director of OperationsState Farm Insurance Company Systems AnalystSunlife Financial Sr Manager, Imaging CenterT.Rowe Price Services, Inc Assistant Vice PresidentThe Huntington National Bank Product Manager-SeniorTime Warner cable Regional AP ManagerU.S. Cellular, Inc. Mgr, Accounts Payable/Business Support ServicesU.S. Department of State ComplianceUMUC Program Director, Telecommunications ManagementUnion Bank of California Vice President/ManagerUnited States Treasury Assistant Commissioner Federal FinanceUnited Water VP of Customer ServiceUnity Health Insurance Systems AnalystUS Attorney's Office Information Technology SpecialistVerizon Communications ManagerWells Fargo Bank Product Manager

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Optical Reader Inventor Dies

By Mark Brousseau

David H. Shepard, inventor of the optical reader, has died at the age of 84.

The following obituary, written by Douglas Martin, appears in today's New York Times.

David H. Shepard, who in his attic invented one of the first machines that could read, and then, to facilitate its interpreting of credit-card receipts, came up with the near-rectilinear font still used for the cards’ numbers, died on Nov. 24 in San Diego. He was 84.

The cause was bronchiectasis, a disease of the bronchial tubes, his wife, Joyce, said. Mr. Shepard followed his reading machine, more formally known as an optical-character-recognition device, with one that could listen and talk. It could answer only “yes” or “no,” but each answer led to a deeper level of complexity. A later version could simultaneously handle multiple telephone inquiries.

He formed and led companies to profit from his inventions. His Intelligent Machines Research Corporation developed and sold the first dozen optical-character-recognition systems to companies like AT&T, First National City Bank, Reader’s Digest and most major oil companies. Mr. Shepard sketched out the familiar boxy numbers on credit cards, called the Farrington B numeric font, on a cocktail napkin at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, his wife said. The shapes were meant to be as simple and open as possible because gasoline station pump islands were among the earliest places optical character recognition was used; the shapes were meant to minimize the effects of smearing with grease, oil and other substances.

The font — with a 7 that looks like two sides of a rectangle — has persisted even as the numbers have faded from use: the magnetic strip on the cards’ back now carries the necessary information.

Mr. Shepard was in the Army in World War II, helping to break the Japanese code. He then worked on other codes for the Armed Forces Security Agency, the precursor to the National Security Agency. He reasoned that it must be possible to build a machine to read coded messages.

So he and a mechanically inclined colleague, Harvey Cook Jr., went up to the attic of Mr. Shepard’s home in Arlington, Va. They spent a year and $4,000 and came down with what they called Gismo, a machine that could recognize 23 letters of the alphabet as produced by a standard typewriter. After another year’s work and more investment, they had developed a machine that could recognize all 26 characters.

Mr. Shepard filed for the patent under his own name; started his company, Intelligent Machines; and moved operations to a small store in an Arlington shopping mall. IBM agreed to license the machine, formally named Scandex, for a 5 percent royalty.

IBM held back on manufacturing the machine but paid advance royalties, which Mr. Shepard used to make what is widely believed to be the first character-sensing machine to be sold. It was bought by the Farrington Manufacturing Company, a pioneer in the credit-identification field.

Farrington became Mr. Shepard’s best customer, and he sold his own company to Farrington. The deal made Intelligent Machines a subsidiary of Farrington and made Mr. Shepard Farrington’s largest shareholder.

Mr. Shepard left Farrington in 1961, and the next year started another company, the Cognitronics Corporation. In 1964, his “conversation machine” became the first commercial device to give telephone callers access to computer data by means of their own voices. At Cognitronics, he also developed a more accurate method of optical character recognition using lasers.

Mr. Shepard apologized many times for his major role in forcing people to converse with a machine instead of with a human being.