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ABBYY Ships First Omnifont OCR Software Package for Fraktur and Old European Language Recognition

January 18, 2005

New product unlocks key to creation of digital archives of important historical documents and books

ABBYY, a leading provider of document recognition and linguistic technologies, today announced worldwide availability of the first omnifont OCR software for recognition of "Fraktur" or Black Letter print, ABBYY FineReader XIX. The technology, first released in September 2004 for developers working with ABBYY's software development tools, is now for the first time available in an end user application. FineReader XIX combines all of the power of ABBYY's FineReader Corporate Edition software package for small businesses and adds special capabilities for reading old European languages.

The First Omnifont OCR Fraktur: Ancient Text Recognition without Extensive Training

More than two years in development, ABBYY FineReader XIX is designed to read ancient texts using "Fraktur" or Black Letter print and those printed between 1600 and 1938. It supports German, English, French, Italian and Spanish languages. FineReader XIX reads Fraktur, Schwabacher and many types of Texture (Gothic) fonts including Roman-type characters no longer in use such as the elongated "s" used in early English or French texts. Until now, recognition systems have required many hours or days of training to recognize key words and symbols. ABBYY designed FineReader XIX to be an omnifont system for Fraktur and old European language recognition, allowing users to scan and read documents using Fraktur scripts and convert them into digital text with minimal training and dictionary work. ABBYY achieved this by developing a special classifier for Fraktur and special language dictionary models for Fraktur together with ABBYY's partner ATAPY software. With the aim of delivering high levels of accuracy, ABBYY FineReader XIX has been trained using hundreds of sample documents, including 10 dictionaries and more than 105 books published between 1750 and 1930. In addition, 31, 000 pages of text from different sources were used in a test base. Special recognition dictionaries using historical printed dictionaries representing the orthography of the 19th centuries for German were also developed.

Created in cooperation with the METAe Project

ABBYY FineReader XIX was also developed with the needs of universities and research centers at its focus. The product was developed through cooperation with the worldwide METAe project. METAe is a consortium of libraries and digitization companies from across Europe who are working together to create the METAe Engine, a software package specifically designed for organizing the work flow of the archiving and conversion of historical materials such as books, journals, magazines and newspapers. ABBYY FineReader XIX will provide a key component for archiving some of Europe's most priceless historical documents. Partners in the METAe project include: the University of Innsbruck (Austria), University of Florence (Italy), Biblioteque Nationale de France, the National Library of Norway, the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation (Germany), CCS Compact Computer Systeme (Germany), and Cornell Library University (USA). More information about the METAe project can be found at

System Requirements

FineReader XIX supports Windows 2003, XP, 2000 and NT 4.0 (with SP6 or later). It is available in 17 user interface languages. Recognized text can be output to a variety of file formats including Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Text, Rich Text Format, Microsoft Word XML, and Adobe PDF. For a complete list of supported formats and system requirements, please go to

Shipping and Availability

ABBYY FineReader XIX is available now worldwide. For additional product information, pricing and trial-version please go to or contact ABBYY's local office.

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