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"I think a lot of kids whose mental growth outruns their maturity gravitate to science fiction."
- Dan Simmons

  A automated transcriptionist - a machine which perfectly translates human speech into words on paper.  

One of the main characters of Second Foundation is a young girl with dreams of adventure. In this future version of (junior high?) school, it is possible to get computers that not only act as transcriptionists, but would give you output just the way you wanted it.

The salesman had said - There is no other model as compact on the one hand and as adaptable on the other. It will spell and punctuate correctly according to the sense of the sentence. Naturally, it is a great aid to education since it encourages the user to employ careful enunciation and breathing in order to make sure of the correct spelling, to say nothing of demanding a proper and elegant delivery for correct punctuation.
From Second Foundation, by Isaac Asimov.
Published by Doubleday in 1953
Additional resources -

Here's another excerpt, just to show how desirable this machine could be:

The machine had been delivered two days ago on her first adult birthday. She had said "But father, everybody - just everybody in the class who has the slightest pretensions to being anybody has one. Nobody but some old drips would use key machines-"

But when it was delivered, it was the model she wanted... and copy was turned out in a charming and entirely feminine handwriting...

As far as I know, you could get very close to this today. And with improvements to speech recognition algorythms, you could get even closer. However, the computer, printer, and software were so well integrated in this future time that it was a completely consumer-oriented product, unlike today's computer systems. Designers take note!

The first science fiction writer to come up with the idea of a machine that could transcribe human speech appears to have been David H. Keller, writing in 1934; he called it a vibrowriter. The first efforts at attempting machine translation of speech came in the late 1940's as the US government was trying to transcribe and translate Russian documents. (The agency responsible for the research later came to be known as the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency - DARPA - which also presided over the invention of TCP/IP, which brought us the Internet.)

Bell Labs was successful in creating a machine system in 1952 that could distinguish the spoken numerals 0-9. By 1960, a system that distinguished 50 words was available.

However, as anyone who has used any of the current commercially available systems knows, speech recognition is still a work in progress.

And when was the first commercially successful device using speech recognition sold? In 1922 a toy called "Radio Rex" was sold; it consisted of a celluloid dog with an iron base. The dog sat in his doghouse held by an electromagnet which pressed against a spring. The current which energized the magnet flowed through a metal bar that formed a bridge with two supporting members. When this bridge was exposed to acoustic energy at 500 hertz, the current was interrupted and the dog sprang from his house. The vowel in Rex when spoken by most people creates a tone around 500 hertz.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Second Foundation
  More Ideas and Technology by Isaac Asimov
  Tech news articles related to Second Foundation
  Tech news articles related to works by Isaac Asimov

Transcriber-related news articles:
  - Speech Recognition Algorithms Improve
  - Siri Dictation For iPad Like Asmiov's 'Transcriber'
  - Robot Handwriting Via App Better Than Yours

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