When it comes to storing and retaining digital documents, the importance of scanning should not be underestimated. These devices are perfect for saving space, cutting costs, and improving efficiency – you can access information at a moment’s notice.

No matter the size of your business, we can all agree that document scanners are game-changers. Without them, most of us would be lost, drowning in an ocean of paperwork and files. Scary stuff! 

Here at River City Data, we make it our mission to help you escape the monotony of paper, and convert to the digital space. 

But just how did such an integral aspect of our lives come to be so? If you’ve ever stopped to wonder( and even if you haven’t), here is a brief history of how document scanning came to be in your office.

The Humble Scanner

Before we delve into the history of scanning, let’s get some background on that crucial tool: the scanner. The device was invented in Kiel, around 50 years ago, and originated in the guise of the fax machine. The original goal was to transmit information for the newspaper industry.

The first scanners could transmit documents, in the form of images rasterized into pixels and lines. They were also fitted with sensing drums; this means that color originals could be read electronically for the first time. 

The color values were first converted into electrical current. Then, using light sensors, a photomultiplier converted the incoming light into electric current, before amplifying it. This change allowed a high-density range and proved a real game-changer.

The original scanner changed and adapted over time, before developing into the familiar flatbed scanner we all use today. This evolution moved the goalposts once more; it introduced the DDC element to form a ‘scan line.

This tool could use a range of color-sensitive photodiodes to read an image, and then reproduce it in color. Even better: it did all this for a cheaper cost.

As needs developed, so did the form of the scanner. Camera scanners emerged with free-moving lenses to capture 3D objects, and film scanners read slides and negatives. Eventually, the CCD chip replaced the CCD line, and this could read a color document in a fraction of a second, saving precious time.

Over time, the design adapted and changed according to the needs and demands of the user. The familiar products we use today have been on a journey, and are liable to change and evolve over time.

So Why Scan?

Just because we have something, doesn’t mean we should use it – so why did scanning become ‘a thing?’

While the first scanner as we know it was introduced around 50 years ago, the concept has been around for far longer. 

In the 1860s, the Pantelegraph was a device capable of transmitting handwriting, drawings, and signatures over telegraph lines. It was commonly used as a verification tool for signatures in banking transactions.

The concept of storing and exchanging information is not new, and we need to give our (several great) grandparents credit. Things moved on in 1924 with the invention of the wireless photoradiogram, which allowed images to be sent wirelessly overseas.

Moving On

The next stage in the process was the Belinographe, which arose in 1913, and could scan images using a photocell. The brainchild of Edouard Belin this transmitted over telephone lines and created the basis for AT&T Wirephoto service. 

Used by news agencies from the ’20s right up to the ’90s, it acted as the frontrunner to both fax and scanning devices.

Once the requirements of the industry evolved beyond the capabilities of the Belingrophe, it was time for the birth of the flatbed scanner. 

As we discussed, these are the most familiar to us today and gained popularity in the early ’90s. Flatbeds optically scan handwritten documents or images and convert them into a useful digital form for businesses across the globe.

These flatbed scanners are sometimes also known as reflective scanners, mainly due to the way they operate. White light is shone onto the object to be scanned and reads the color and intensity of the light reflected. Technology has developed and advanced, and flatbed scanners can now produce copies of up to 5400 pixels per inch.

There are two types of technology used in flatbed scanners, Contact Image Sensor (CIS) and Charged Coupled Device (CCD) technology.

  • Charged Coupled Device (CCD): The document to be scanned is placed on a glass pane; this can be a book, image, magazine, or similar. A bright light source shines onto the entire document, while a moving CCD scanner captures the content. The scanner contains three sensors lined up, each with a filter: one for blue, one for red, and one for green.
  • Contact Image Sensor (CIS): CIS also uses a mobile scanner, and again, this has a filter to distinguish red, green, and blue light. A blue LED is used to highlight and illuminate the document during the scanning process. Meanwhile, a monochromatic photodiode array is beneath the rod lends of the scanner; this collects light and renders the image.

How We Use Scanning Today

In the modern world, scanning is a crucial part of everyday business. It allows us to collate and collect relevant information without the need for extensive storage facilities. 

In addition, we can access the data we need instantly, thanks to electronic search systems. This, in turn, is a substantial time and money saver. Confidentiality can also be maintained and protected more efficiently, with electronic passwords and sophisticated security systems.

Here at River City Data, we work hard to ensure that your business can run as effectively and efficiently as possible. Our range of services allows you to digitize vast numbers of files, transforming your workspace, and moving your business forward. 

We offer a complete scanning and digitization service, as well as the secure disposal of any records once the process is complete. Why not get in touch today for a free estimate, and take the first steps to transform your business into a paper-free paradise!