History of the digital court record—and For The Record’s role in its modernization.

Stone carvings gave way to paper. Pen gave way to typewriters. Typewriters to stenograph machines. 

And, just as Moore’s Law predicted the ongoing exponential expansion of technology’s capabilities, For The Record has led the way, consistently accelerating the pace of digital court reporting transformation.   

At For The Record, we have been identifying, investigating, mitigating, and overcoming risks to the justice and legal systems with our patented and proprietary digital solutions for three decades. We set precedents. 

For The Record was the first company in the world to create an electronic courtroom (in Australia in the early 1990s). Since then, we have continued to pave the way for modernized courtrooms around the globe, delivering innovations that go on to become industry standards. Above all, For The Record draws on the traditions of the past to support the justice system into its digital future.  

  • 1888 

    The shorthand soon to be used in US courts is created by Irishman John Robert Gregg  

  • 1899 

    USA’s National Shorthand Reporters Association (NSRA) formed 

  • 1910  

    Inventor Ward Stone patents the first stenotype machine  

  • 1940 

    Stenographic reporting introduced in courts 

  • 1960 

    Tape-based recording in use (and still used in some jurisdictions today) 

  • 1990  

    NSRA changes name to National Court Reporters Association (reflecting increasing use of taped recordings for transcription)  

  • 1993

    Digital Technologies becomes FTR, a new business listed on the Australian Stock Exchange

  • 1994–1997

    World’s first high-tech e-courtroom (for Australia’s Wood Royal Commission into NSW Police Corruption) created and installed by For The Record’s Tony Douglass

  • 1995

    For The Record’s multiroom e-court adopted by courts in Washington DC, Hong Kong, Queensland (Australia), and Singapore

  • 1998

    FTR Gold 1.1 introduced to capture the record in courtrooms, setting the standard in digital audio recording

  • 2000

    Early digital recording systems used more widely

  • 2003

    First digital video recording software introduced into courtrooms with FTR Gold 3.1

  • 2005–2011

    World’s first online court-record playback library delivered by For The Record

    World’s first live-recording distribution tool for courts released by For The Record

    Same-day certified transcript delivery realised with For The Record’s streaming and transcription platform (precursor to Transcript Express)

  • 2009

    COSCA report recommends courts move to digital recording for all except specific capital criminal and civil trials

  • 2010

    FTR Gold software now installed in 22,500 courtrooms across North America, representing more than 50% of the digital court recording market

  • 2013

    National Centre for State Courts releases landmark recommendations paper, Making the Record: Utilizing Digital Electronic Recording, after inviting For The Record to advise and contribute on technology procedures and best practices

  • 2013–2016

    R&D collaboration with Queensland University of Technology leads to patent for For The Record’s AI multi-speaker identification technology for court recordings

  • 2015

    High-definition (HD) audio and video introduced with FTR Gold 5.7

  • 2016

    For The Record’s Smart Audio processing introduced, delivering recording outcomes better than human hearing

  • 2017

    For The Record’s Transcript Express platform used in real-world courtrooms in the US, Canada, and the UK, delivering faster transcripts and reducing burden on court administration

  • 2020

    COVID-19 shuts courtrooms globally; For The Record Virtual Recorder, used in conjunction with Microsoft Teams, allows many to re-open for remote hearings during pandemic restrictions

    For The Record develops first Microsoft Teams-based, virtual-court management solution, Digital Justice, for Maricopa County Superior Court

  • 2021

    For The Record integrates additional cloud security and access with wider release of Cloud Platform Solutions, including Recording Vault, Speech-to-Text, and Transcript Express—delivering groundbreaking storage, management, and delivery of the court record

    FTR Speech-to-Text reaches 95% accuracy tested against real court proceedings in real courtrooms

    FTR Gold 7.1 released, offering unprecedented audio and video capabilities For The Record extends its Virtual Recorder for Cisco, Webex, and Zoom virtual hearings

  • 2022

    For The Record launches FTR RealTime. The automated, speech-to-text technology unlocks actionable insights within a searchable record, providing unprecedented real-time access for all court participants—both during and after legal proceedings

    FTR Gold 7.6 release, enabling courts to simultaneously record, monitor, and stream audio and video of proceedings live from any courtroom to anywhere on the court network—to remote court monitors, digital court reporters and authorized participants within the courthouse or across the town, county, or state

  • 2023

    Watch this space…

    Driven by our commitment to accelerating justice, improving accuracy, and enhancing accessibility, For The Record will continue to lead the way, developing new technology for courtrooms and the justice system.

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