The branch of computer science devoted to translating printed text and images into a form that a computer can manipulate (into ASCII codes, for example). An OCR system enables you to scan a book or magazine article directly into a computer file, where you can edit it using a word processor.
OCR systems include an optical scanner for reading text and sophisticated software for analyzing images. Most OCR systems use a combination of hardware (specialized circuit boards) and software to recognize characters, although some inexpensive systems do it entirely through software. Advanced OCR systems can read text in large variety of fonts, but they still have difficulty with handwritten text.
The potential of OCR systems is enormous because they enable users to access printed documents by harnessing the power of computers. OCR is already being used widely in the legal profession, where searches that once required hours or days can now be accomplished in a few minutes.